Jury awards $38 million verdict in mesothelioma lawsuit filed by farm worker who was exposed to asbestos

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by Charles Miller

Lloyd Strom Garvin spent decades working with and around machines on his family farm and as a heavy equipment operator. Gavin now has less than a year to live after being diagnosed with mesothelioma, a rare form of cancer related to exposure to asbestos.

Garvin filed suit against 13 manufacturers of equipment like pumps and valves that he used during those years of work on the farm and in a factory. Before his case went to trial, most of the manufacturers settled or were dropped from the case. However, his claims against Durco, Byron Jackson and Crane—companies that manufacture pumps and valves—were recently tried to a jury.

The jury found that Gavin’s mesothelioma was caused by exposure to asbestos from the defendants’ asbestos-containing gaskets and packing in valves and pumps. The jury found that Crane, Durco and Byron Jackson knew or should have known about the dangers of the asbestos in their products and should have taken action to warn and protect people like Garvin who work around their products.

The jury awarded plaintiff Garvin $10 million in actual damages and another $1 million in actual damages to his wife for loss of consortium. The jury also ordered defendants Durco and Crane Co. to pay $11 million each in punitive damages and Byron Jackson to pay $5 million in punitive damages. The damages totaled $38 million.

Mesothelioma develops from cells of the mesothelium, the protective lining that covers many of the internal organs of the body. Most people who develop mesothelioma worked in jobs where they were inhaled or ingested asbestos fibers. However, sometimes people are exposed to airborne asbestos dust in other ways. For example, even washing the clothes of a family member who worked with asbestos creates a risk for developing mesothelioma.

Working around pumps and gaskets is common for farm and industrial workers alike. However, working directly with or around pumps can involve a potential for exposure to asbestos. Workers at power-generating plants, oil refineries and chemical plants as well as insulators, electricians, plumbers, construction workers, boiler repairmen, and shipyard workers all may have been exposed to asbestos dust. Asbestos exposure can occur when workers cut and install new gasket and packing materials or when old gasket and packing materials are removed. During pump maintenance and repairs—or whenever asbestos-containing insulation is applied or removed or disturbed—anyone in the area can be at risk for inhaling asbestos fibers.

Mesothelioma is a disease that is both very aggressive and has a long latency period. As a result, the disease is usually not detected until it has reached the advanced stages of cancer. Accordingly, the prognosis for most patients is not favorable. The mesothelioma survival rate is usually just one or two years after diagnosis.

Heygood, Orr & Pearson and asbestos litigation

Millions of American workers were unknowingly exposed for decades to the health risks of asbestos without being warned by their employers. Besides mesothelioma, exposure to asbestos can increase an individual’s risk of asbestosis, lung cancer, pleural diseases, and other types of cancer or respiratory illness. Individuals who worked with asbestos pipes, brake pads, insulation used in the construction industry, or U.S. Navy and Merchant Marine ships that were outfitted with asbestos parts may be eligible to file a personal injury lawsuit and seek compensation for the injuries they suffered as a result of their asbestos exposure.

At the law firm of Heygood, Orr & Pearson, we have achieved settlements or verdicts for our clients totaling hundreds of millions of dollars. In 2010 alone, we negotiated wrongful death and personal injury settlements totaling more than $50 million. Our firm has the financial resources to handle asbestos injury and death cases from beginning to end. In many cases, we have invested hundreds of thousands of dollars in a single case in order to bring it to trial. Above all, we are committed to achieving justice for our clients, no matter the cost.

If you or a loved one have been serious injured due to asbestos exposure, contact our law firm for a free legal consultation about your case. You can reach us by calling our toll-free number at 1-877-446-9001, or by completing the free case evaluation form located above you on this page.