Understanding, Managing, and Living with the

Health Effects of Asbestos

Jury Awards $14 Million in Asbestos Lawsuit

November 14, 2015

Spartanburg, SC: The family of a man who died of mesothelioma has reportedly been awarded $14 million in their asbestos lawsuit, which alleged that the man’s mesothelioma was linked to his time working at a polyester plant. In awarding the $14 million, the jury reportedly found that the owner of the polyester fiber plant, Celanese Corp., was negligent in neither posting warnings about, nor providing protection from, asbestos exposure.

According to a news release, Dennis Seay died in 2014 at age 70. He was diagnosed with mesothelioma in 2013 after having worked at a Celanese factory from 1971 to 1980. An attorney for Seay’s family said that in his last year of life, Seay’s lungs collapsed 10 times and were drained 11 times causing immense suffering. The lawsuit alleged Seay did not know about the dangers associated with asbestos and received no warnings or protections from it.

The jury in the lawsuit ultimately agreed with the plaintiffs that Celanese should have provided proper warnings about or protection from asbestos, and awarded $12 million in actual damages and $2 million in punitive damages.

A spokesperson for Celanese indicated the company planned to appeal the jury’s decision. The lawsuit also named John Crane - a company that made asbestos-containing gaskets - as a defendant. The jury, however, found John Crane not liable for Seay’s injuries.

Asbestos is linked to serious health problems including mesothelioma, asbestosis and lung cancer, all of which are fatal. In many cases, however, the onset of symptoms does not occur until decades after asbestos exposure. That can make it difficult to determine which companies are responsible for a plaintiff’s asbestos exposure, particularly if there are many possible incidents in which the plaintiff was exposed.

Lawsuits have been filed against various companies alleging they knew or should have known about the dangers associated with asbestos exposure but failed to adequately protect workers or consumers.

In April, as reported by Gordon Gibb, Colgate-Palmolive lost an asbestos lawsuit after the plaintiff alleged the company’s talcum powder - Cashmere Bouquet - was contaminated with asbestos and caused her mesothelioma. The plaintiff in that case, Judith Winkel, was awarded $13 million when the jury found that Colgate-Palmolive acted with malice. Colgate-Palmolive was found 95 percent responsible for Winkel’s mesothelioma, with four other companies responsible for the remaining five percent.

The lawsuit is Dennis Seay v. 3M Co., et al, case number 2013CP4203915, in the Seventh Judicial Circuit of South Carolina.