Widow of Power Plant Worker Awarded Asbestos Damages

Panama City, FL – The widow of a mesothelioma victim was awarded nearly $1 million in damages and medical expenses, but one of the parties in the case denies that it is a valid defendant, and claims that the judgment is not binding. Betty McBride, the widow of Woodrow McBride, was awarded $245,000 for her husband’s medical bills, as well as $225,000 for pain and suffering and $525,000 for future pain and suffering. McBride had worked at two power plants, and claimed in his 2006 lawsuit that several companies were responsible for asbestos-containing products to which he was exposed at work. Gulf Power, Foster Wheeler and General Electric were three of the companies named in the lawsuit. The jurors in the case, which was settled earlier this week, found Gulf Power 60% liable and Foster Wheeler 25% liable. The other companies, including GE, were all found to be 1% liable. The jury also rules that there was no negligence on the part of any of these companies. Gulf Power, however, says that its naming in the lawsuit falls under the Faber decision rule, in which named plaintiffs may also name a Faber defendants in order to shift blame away from themselves. Florida law allows for this naming, and also states that Faber defendants are not responsible for damages awarded to the plaintiff. What this means for McBride is a reduction of the actual damages paid. According to the verdict, Gulf Power’s share in the damages would amount to just under $600,000. Woodrow McBride was diagnosed with mesothelioma, a rare but aggressive cancer who’s only known cause is exposure to asbestos, in September 2005. He died a year later, at age 67. Asbestos is a fibrous mineral which has been used extensively in heat- and fire-resistant applications such as insulation and building materials. When asbestos is disturbed, it becomes airborne and can cause not only mesothelioma but also pleural disease and asbestosis. Although the United States has largely phased out asbestos use in the past few decades, it remains in many infrastructures. Additionally, it continues to pose a hazard to those who have worked with or around it in the past, because the diseases related to it have a long latency period. Mesothelioma, for example, may not begin to display symptoms until decades after the initial exposure. During his tenure at Smith Power Plant in Southport, FL, and Crist Power Plant in Pensacola, McBride was exposed to asbestos while working with boilers manufactured by Foster Wheeler. The boilers were insulated with asbestos-containing material.