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Multimillion-Dollar Settlement for Woman Exposed to Asbestos by Home Remodeling and Cleanup

September 17, 2014
Home Firm News Multimillion-Dollar Settlement for Woman Exposed to Asbestos by Home Remodeling and Cleanup

A multimillion-dollar settlement was awarded to the family of a New Jersey woman who was exposed to asbestos dust and contracted both pleural and peritoneal mesothelioma cancer. Attorneys at Weitz & Luxenberg have negotiated a total of $17 billion in verdicts and settlements for our clients.

Her initial exposure came from working as a child with her father on multiple home improvement projects and continued with projects in her own home with her husband. “We are very sad that our client’s life was taken by this terrible disease, but we are glad that we could get some compensation for her pain and suffering for her family members,” explains Weitz & Luxenberg attorney Mary Grabish Gaffney.

The settlement was reached after our W&L trial attorneys Robert Silverman and Neidra Wilson picked a jury and started the trial. They called our client to the witness stand, and she told the jury about her physical suffering and mental anguish. Soon after, the defendants agreed to settle.

Exposed to Asbestos Dust While Doing Home Remodeling

At an early age, our client assisted her father as he built additions for their home: a living room, dining room, hallway, and bathroom. This work involved cutting and laying floor tile, as well as putting up wall board and caulking.

She and her father used products purchased at home improvement stores that were designed to be installed by consumers. None of these products contained warnings about the hazards of the dust created from cutting, scoring, or sanding.

Our client assisted her father by sweeping up the dust and cleaning the work sites, as well as by washing all the dusty clothes. She was constantly exposed to dust from floor tiles, wallboard, joint compound, and caulking materials. Not only did she handle the materials herself, but she also cleaned up after the projects, leading to more exposure.

This exposure to asbestos in home improvement products continued when she assisted her husband with work on their home. This included multiple caulking projects, both installing new caulking and removing and replacing old caulking.

Secondary Exposure from Husband’s Workplace

Beyond her exposure to home improvement products, our client was also exposed to asbestos from the dust on her husband’s work uniforms, when she did the laundry.

Her husband is a factory worker who worked with large steam traps and compressors. He would often come home covered in dust from the job site. He received no warnings about the potential hazards of this asbestos contamination.

Our client would do his laundry and expose herself to asbestos in the process. Mesothelioma cancer was the result.

Multiple Manufacturers Were Held Responsible

Through investigation, Weitz & Luxenberg attorneys identified almost a dozen different manufacturers that contributed to our client contracting mesothelioma and ultimately dying. We negotiated awards of varying sizes for harm done. The financial settlement awards were based on the exposure our client received.

While some of the products used were labeled as containing asbestos, there were no warnings on any of the products as to the potential dangers. There were also no instructions on the safe use of these products.

Ms. Gaffney stresses, “These were products sold to be used in the home by consumers. The dangers, and remedies for these dangers, should have been clearly posted on the packages. Failure to do so put many people at life-threatening risk.”

Suffering from Pleural and Peritoneal Mesothelioma

Our client contracted both pleural and peritoneal mesothelioma. Pleural mesothelioma is a cancer that develops in the tissue lining the chest cavity and the lungs. It is the most common type of mesothelioma.

Peritoneal mesothelioma, sometimes called abdominal mesothelioma, is a form of mesothelioma that develops in the lining of the abdominal cavity (known as the peritoneum).

Mesothelioma is a rare cancer. It is almost always caused by exposure to asbestos. It can occur in the membrane covering the lungs and chest cavity, the membranes lining the abdominal cavity, or membranes surrounding other internal organs.(1)

Unfortunately, our client died before all the settlement awards were negotiated. But her family is receiving all the compensation we were able to negotiate for her.

Exposure over an Extended Period of Time

Our client’s exposure to these asbestos-containing products began in the mid-1950s as she worked with her father on various home improvement projects. Weitz & Luxenberg attorneys were able to identify the various manufacturers.

Several depositions were recorded as our client discussed the various renovations and what was involved with each one. “Because of the extended period of time, and the variety of products, we had to build a case showing how each of these products contributed to our client contracting mesothelioma, and ultimately, sadly, dying,” says Ms. Gaffney.

In addition to exposure from the various home improvement projects, our client was also regularly exposed to asbestos dust on clothing. She did the laundry for the family, including her husband and her father-in-law.

Work uniforms came home from job sites covered with dust. The family was not warned that this dust contained asbestos, or that there were dangers. “There was no attempt to safeguard the health of workers, or those exposed. It was important to hold the people who did this accountable,” insists Ms. Gaffney. A former nurse, our client died at the age of 61, leaving behind a husband and three adult children. They, and we, miss her.

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