Philadelphia Jury Awards $7.2 Million to Shipyard Worker who Died from Mesothelioma

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by Michael Heygood

Edward Merwitz worked as a shipfitter at the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard from 1965 to 1971 before spending the rest of his career as a nurse anesthetist. He was diagnosed with mesothelioma in 2010 and died six months later at the age of 62.

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 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.

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 period is usually just one or two years after diagnosis.

Merwitz’s wife filed suit on his behalf against nine companies whose products were allegedly used at the shipyard where her husband had worked for six years. The suit alleged that Merwitz’s exposure to the asbestos-containing products caused his mesothelioma and death.

Following a trial in the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas, the eight jurors voted 7-1 in finding all nine of the defendants created products that were a substantial factor in causing Merwitz’s mesothelioma. The jury awarded about $3.6 million in Survival Act damages and about $3.6 million in wrongful-death damages. Eight of the nine defendants settled before or during trial, and thus the sole defendant, RSCC Wire and Cable, will be responsible for one-ninth of the award, or approximately $805,000.

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 has 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.