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W&L Wins $25 Million Verdict for California Couple Suffering Asbestos-Related Injuries

March 21, 2019
Home Firm News W&L Wins $25 Million Verdict for California Couple Suffering Asbestos-Related Injuries

Weitz & Luxenberg attorneys Benno Ashrafi and Leonard Sandoval recently secured a $25 million dollar trial verdict for Houshang Sabetian, a former Iranian oil refinery worker who developed testicular mesothelioma as the result of asbestos exposure while working at oil refineries and fields in Iran. The jury awarded $14 million to Mr. Sabetian for his past and future pain and suffering and $11 million to Soraya Sabetian, his wife of more than 50 years, for her past and future loss of love and companionship following Mr. Sabetian’s life-threatening and likely terminal cancer diagnosis.

Successful Verdict

After three weeks of trial and two days of deliberation, a jury in Los Angeles, California awarded $25 million in damages to the Sabetian family for past and future noneconomic loss, finding that the negligence of Fluor Enterprises, Middle East Fluor, and the National Iranian Oil Co. contributed to Mr. Sabetian’s risk of developing mesothelioma and ultimately caused his testicular mesothelioma.

“This case represents the latest in a long line of Iranian refinery workers who have fallen victim to Fluor’s irresponsible conduct overseas,” said Mr. Ashrafi, who oversees the mesothelioma practice for Weitz & Luxenberg’s Los Angeles office. “Various Fluor entities built many of the refineries in Iran in the 1960s and 1970s, and they cut corners with respect to safety and asbestos hazards and continued to use asbestos insulation in Iran long after those products were banned in the United States.” 

“As a result, Mr. Sabetian has been diagnosed with a debilitating and deadly disease that has caused he and his family tremendous pain and suffering. I want to thank the members of the jury for their diligence and for recognizing the damage caused to Mr. Sabetian and his wife by Fluor’s negligence.”

National Iranian Oil Company and Fluor Entities Fail to Protect Oil Workers

Mr. Sabetian worked in the Iranian Oil industry from approximately 1960 to 1979, and was employed by the National Iranian Oil Company in the Organization of Methods and Systems department, where he suffered asbestos exposure through the handling of asbestos-containing products. Mr. Sabetian and his wife moved to Los Angeles in 1981, and he was diagnosed with testicular mesothelioma in 2017.

Various Fluor entities designed and built oil refineries in Iran including the Tehran Refinery, the Tehran Expansion Refinery, and the Esfahan Refinery. They also designed and built various units in the Abadan Refinery. W&L attorneys demonstrated at trial that the defendants used asbestos products, including asbestos pipe-insulation, in their Iranian refineries without taking the necessary precautions, and that the defendants were taking strict safety precautions in the United States that they did not employ in Iran.

In awarding damages of $25 million to Mr. Sabetian, the jury assessed liability at 60 percent to Fluor Enterprises, 20 percent to Middle East Fluor, and 20 percent to the National Iranian Oil Company. The jury found additional defendants Parsons Govt Services Inc., Brand Insulations, Inc., and two Fluor entities, Fluor Corporation and Fluor International, not liable.

“Fluor relied on an expert medical witness paid by industry to push a false narrative that testicular mesothelioma couldn’t be caused by asbestos exposure, a position not at all supported by the medical and scientific communities,” said Mr. Ashrafi. “Needless to say, the jury saw right through their argument, and found that Mr. Sabetian’s cancer was the result of Fluor’s negligent safety practices.”

Other Asbestos Verdicts

Weitz & Luxenberg has won numerous favorable verdicts for their clients in mesothelioma injury cases, including a $75 million verdict that is the largest single asbestos verdict ever in New York state, a $20 million verdict for the family of a marine ship repairman, and an $11.4 million verdict for the family of a worker who cut, installed, and repaired asbestos-cement water pipes.

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