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Family of Deceased GM Worker Awarded $3M in Asbestos Lawsuit Settlement

December 13, 2012

Erie, PA: The family of a former employee at the GM Powertrain facility in the town of Tonawanda, who subsequently died of asbestos disease, has been awarded $3 million by the jury hearing the case.

Gerald Suttner, formerly of Tonawanda, worked at the GM facility repairing vales manufactured by Crane Co. The job involved removing asbestos gaskets, which created asbestos dust Suttner would have inhaled. He did this for 36 years, from 1964 to 1979, when he retired.

Diagnosed in October 2010, Mr. Suttner died just one year later, from pleural mesothelioma, a form of cancer that is caused by asbestos. He was 77.

During the trial, lawyers for the Suttner family called expert witnesses who testified that there is no such thing as safe asbestos exposure and assured the jury that Suttner' exposure is what led to his diagnosis. The dangers of asbestos have been known since the early 1900s, and they lawyers made the case that Crane was aware of these dangers since the 1930s. "But the company continued to use asbestos well into the late 1980s without placing warnings on its products,"the law firm' statement reads.

During his retirement, Suttner helped his wife, Joann, care for their disabled daughter, and served as a volunteer for the Shriners Hospital in Erie, PA, driving children to and from the hospital.

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