A former Los Angeles Department of Water and Power employee was just awarded $208 million in compensatory and punitive damages from a mesothelioma settlement.
The California jury determined that Rhoda Evans, and her husband, Bobby Evans, should be awarded the sum from CertainTeed Corporation and the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power after Rhoda developed mesothelioma. Mesothelioma is a rare and aggressive cancer caused almost exclusively by asbestos exposure. It can often take 15-40 years to develop and often starts in the lungs (pleural mesothelioma) or the abdomen (peritoneal mesothelioma).
Victims typically average only one year of life following a diagnosis. Mrs. Evans suffered what is commonly referred to as secondary asbestos exposure from asbestos fibers brought home on her husband’s work clothing. Mr. Evans worked for the Los Angeles Dept. of Water and Power where part of his work duties included cutting CertainTeed water pipes made of asbestos cement. The cutting process released microscopic asbestos fibers into the air which then attached to Mr. Evans clothes.
It is believe that Rhoda Evans was exposed because she often washed her husband’s clothes which again released the fibers into the air where she could inhale them. Secondary exposure of this nature illustrates the dangers associated with asbestos. Mrs. Evans didn’t even work with asbestos products on a daily basis yet is now dying from the toxic fibers her husband unknowingly brought home.
Because many of the asbestos manufacturers were aware of the potential hazards yet hid the information from the public, the area of mesothelioma law has evolved to help compensate victims. In this particular case, the jury awarded $200 million in punitive damages and $8 million in compensatory damages.
CertainTeed has been assigned to 70% and the L.A. Dept. of Water and Power to 30% of the liability. The large sum awarded is subject to change as the judge will review arguments from both sides regarding the validity of the verdict, but it should remain a substantial sum.