Last week, a jury in Smith County, Mississippi granted Thomas Brown Jr. the largest asbestos verdict in the history of the United States. Brown, of Brookhaven, MS, filed his case against defendants Chevron Phillips Chemical (CP Chem) and Union Carbide Corporation and has been awarded $322 million to cover medical expenses, pain and suffering, and punitive damages.
Mr. Brown spent several years of his career from 1979 through the mid-1980’s laboring in the oil fields of Mississippi. He has since been diagnosed with asbestosis, a lung disease caused by asbestos exposure, and has been relegated to an oxygen breathing machine 24 hours a day.
Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral that was a component in a wide variety of products because of its unique set of properties that make it resistant to heat, friction, electrical, and chemical damage. Asbestos was so widely used in the oil industry because of its fireproof qualities and the highly flammable nature of oil. Unfortunately, asbestos exposure has potentially hazardous health consequences which include mesothelioma, asbestosis, and lung cancer.
Commenting on the case, one of Mr. Brown’s attorneys said, “Brown inhaled asbestos dust while mixing drilling mud sold by CP Chem and manufactured by Union Carbide. Although the asbestos was known to cause cancer and lung disease, CP Chem and Union Carbide continued to market these almost 100 percent pure asbestos products long after they knew the dangers.”
Ultimately, the jury determined that both the Chevron Phillips Chemical (CP Chem) and Union Carbide were liable for designing a defective product and failing to adequately warn their employees. An attorney for Chevron Phillips Chemical has already expressed an intent to appeal.
Have you or a loved one been exposed to asbestos? An asbestos attorney may be able to help.