Jury awards man $322M in U.S.’s largest asbestos verdict

Quoted from http://www.sunherald.com/2011/05/06/3090633/jury-awards-man-322m-in-uss-largest.html


Jury awards man $322M in U.S.’s largest asbestos verdict

By Charlotte Graham – Laurel Leader-Call

Friday, May. 06, 2011

RALEIGH — A Smith County jury has awarded a Brookhaven man the single largest plaintiff’s asbestos verdict in United States history.

In a case against Chevron Phillips Chemical and Union Carbide Corp., Thomas “Tony” Brown Jr. was awarded $322 million for future medical expenses, pain and suffering, and punitive damages.

Brown, 48, who worked in the oil fields of Mississippi from 1979 to the mid-’80s, was diagnosed with asbestosis and is on oxygen 24 hours a day. Asbestosis is a lung disease caused by asbestos exposure that induces lung scarring and shortness of breath, which worsens over time.

Brown had worked as a roughneck, mixing drilling mud on drilling rigs in Mississippi and offshore in the Gulf of Mexico. Allen Hossley, one of his 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.”

The jury found CP Chem and Union Carbide liable to Brown for defectively designing their product and failure to provide an adequate warning.

Brown could not read or write when he started working in oil fields at age 16, and defendants argued because Brown couldn’t read, he didn’t deserve protection under Mississippi’s statue requiring defendants to warn the oil-field workers about the dangers of their asbestos products.

“The jury’s verdict made it clear that the people of Mississippi think that everyone, including the young men entering the work force that can’t read, deserve equal protection under Mississippi law,” said Dawn Smith, another of Brown’s attorneys.

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