Widow wins $5 million settlement in asbestos lawsuit

June 26th, 2006

A jury has awarded $5 million to a woman whose husband died from a disease caused by asbestos exposure. James Terrance worked as a contract employee at an ExxonMobil plant in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, in the 1960s. He chipped paint containing asbestos from pipes at the plant, thus contracting mesothelioma. Mesothelioma, cancer of the lining of the heart, lungs and abdominal cavity, has been linked to exposure to high levels of asbestos.

The 11-person jury ruled that ExxonMobil was solely responsible for failing to protect its contract workers from the deadly effects of asbestos. “Exxon knew about all the dangers since the 1930s and protects its own employees from those dangers,” said Lewis Unglesby, mesothelioma attorney for Terrance’s widow, Sadie Mae. “We’re very gratified.” He argued, and the jury concurred, that the company’s contract workers were routinely exposed to asbestos—whereas its own workers were not.

There are an estimated 8 million victims of asbestos exposure in the United States alone, and the number of mesothelioma lawsuits is expected to hold steady for another 20 or 30 years.

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