Seattle, WA—After three days of deliberation on the part of a federal jury, a former paper mill worker has been awarded over $10 million in his mesothelioma lawsuit against two companies.
Henry Barabin, along with his wife Geraldine, brought suit against Scapa Dryer Fabrics, Inc. and Asten Johnson Inc., former manufacturers of asbestos-containing dryer fabrics which were used by his employer, Crown Zellerbach Paper Mill, to insulate paper machines. While working at the plant in Camas, Washington from 1968 until his transfer to a newly built facility in 1984, Barabin was exposed to asbestos dust created by handling, replacing, and disposal of the dryer fabrics. He continued working at the new facility until 2001, after which he retired and moved to Florida. Just five years later, he was diagnosed with the deadly asbestos cancer mesothelioma.
Although the defendant companies maintained that their products were safe, the evidence at trial showed that hazardous levels of asbestos dust was released from the dryer fabrics manufactured by both Scapa and AstenJohnson, and that they did not inform the users of these fabrics of the risks posed by working around the asbestos material. Barabin worked as a pulp tester, paper tester, winderman and filterman, among other duties. One of his jobs was to clean out the papers machines’ dryer fabrics on a daily basis.
Asbestos used to be a common material used in high-heat industrial applications. Since its microscopic fibers can be inhaled, and can lead to several deadly diseases, including the rare cancer mesothelioma, it has been classified as a toxic carcinogen and phased out of use in most industrialized nations.
Mesothelioma, an unusual form of cancer which can take up to five decades to be properly diagnosed, is responsible for approximately 3,000 new cases each year in the United States. Although there is no cure for mesothelioma, it can be treated with varying degrees of success through the use of surgical procedures, chemotherapy and radiation.
Barabin and his wife were awarded $700,000 in economic damages for medical expenses, loss of household services and loss of future income; $8,000,000 in non-economic damages; and $1,500,000 in loss of consortium for Mrs. Barabin. The defendants are jointly liable for the full amount of the verdict under Washington law.