Weitz & Luxenberg attorneys Mark Bratt, Leonard Sandoval, and Benno Ashrafi recently secured a significant trial verdict for the family of Alfred Mata, who developed malignant mesothelioma as a result of his father Francisco’s work with water pipes that contained asbestos.
After a 12-day trial, a Long Beach, California jury awarded $11.4 million in economic, noneconomic, and punitive damages to Alfred and his wife Leticia, finding that his father’s employer, Park Water, now known as Liberty Utilities (Park Water) Corp., was negligent. Liberty Utilities (Park Water) is a water service provider to residents in Southern Los Angeles County, including Compton, Downey, Lynwood, Norwalk, and Paramount, and has been in business since the 1930s.
“The pain and suffering Alfred Mata endures from mesothelioma could have been prevented if the proper health and safety measures were in place, and I am pleased that the jury rightfully held Park Water responsible for its actions,” said Benno Ashrafi, who oversees the mesothelioma practice for Weitz & Luxenberg’s Los Angeles office. “I thank the members of that jury for their diligence during this trial and recognition of the harm caused to the Mata family.”
Park Water’s Failure to Protect Employees
From 1970 to 1985, Francisco’s work for Park Water involved cutting, installing, and repairing asbestos-cement water pipes. As W&L’s attorneys demonstrated at trial, Park Water did not alert its employees to the dangers of asbestos and failed to provide proper safety measures, including separate lockers for street and work clothing, as required by the Occupational Safety and Health Act. In fact, the plaintiffs alleged that Park Water violated both federal and state health and safety laws for more than a decade.
“The jury held Park Water accountable for its practice of cutting corners and ignoring common sense health laws for decades,” said Mark Bratt, lead trial attorney for the W&L Los Angeles office. “This verdict helps make Southern Los Angeles County a safer place to work and live by making it clear that companies cannot put profit ahead of safety.”
The Mata Family’s Exposure to Asbestos
Francisco unknowingly exposed his family to deadly asbestos dust when he brought his asbestos-contaminated clothing home from work. Because of this exposure, Alfred developed mesothelioma and was diagnosed with the terminal cancer when he was 64 years old.
During trial, the jury determined that Park Water acted unreasonably, which caused Alfred to be exposed to dangerous levels of asbestos. Further, the jury found that the company acted with malice in the treatment of its employees and their families.
Other Asbestos Verdicts
This verdict is one of many favorable outcomes that Weitz & Luxenberg attorneys have won for those suffering from mesothelioma. Last year, the firm secured a $20 million verdict for the family of a marine ship repairman who developed malignant mesothelioma as a result of working with asbestos-containing equipment manufactured by Crane Co.