A total verdict of $48 million was awarded by a Los Angeles Superior Court to the family of a mesothelioma plaintiff after it was determined the patient came into contact with cancer-causing materials without proper warning. Dow Chemical subsidiary Union Carbide was ordered to pay $18 million in punitive damages after Baron and Budd mesothelioma attorneys uncovered the construction suppliers for deliberately distributing cancer-causing asbestos.
Union Carbide retained its own asbestos industry-funded scientists to plead their case: the company’s asbestos does not cause cancer. Riverside Cement and CalPortland, two defendants also listed in the complaint, also retained asbestos industry-funded scientists to testify that the amount of asbestos used in their products was too “trivial” to cause cancer. The evidence against the companies, however, was undeniable.
Placing a “safe” level on asbestos exposure would be similar to placing limitations on exposure to nuclear fallout. No exposure can be tolerated safely by the human body.
During the litigation process Baron and Budd mesothelioma attorneys John Langdoc and Christine Tamer retrieved internal correspondence documents, asbestos safety memos and asbestos risk assessments from Union Carbide. These documents showed a corporate cover-up of epic proportion. These documents displayed a clear knowledge that Union Carbide distributors comprehended their product would cause cancer— and that releasing such facts would be harmful to their profit margin.
The Union Carbide documents accentuate damning communication between various divisions within the company regarding the use of “Calindria” asbestos. The papers exhibit an early and complete understanding that the material could have lethal repercussions, even after brief exposure. Union Carbide toxicology reports detailed the effects of the products and capitalized necessary safety precautions including the supposed management of “dust” levels to ensure a healthy work environment, but the warnings were apparently not heeded. The marketing and sales department, however, thought it would be lethal to their sales to place the word “cancer” on safety labels.
One of the more jarring Union Carbide documents was a hand-written risk and liability calculation concerning the number of increased cancer cases per year and the projected monetary expense of potential court settlements. Disturbing visual imagery of this assessment represents a lucid comprehension of the impact asbestos has on workers; and are, at best, difficult to ignore.
Perhaps the most shocking piece in the case is that it is not all that shocking. Scientists said that this kind of exposure was common and by no means excessive. The victim was subject to repeated bystander exposure. As an owner of a general contracting business, he would frequently visit job sites where asbestos materials were being used for short periods of time.
This case represents another great victory against Dow Chemical subsidiary Union Carbide and other companies responsible for asbestos exposure.