Drywaller Awarded $26.6M in Asbestos Mesothelioma Lawsuit
April 2, 2013
San Pedro, CA:
An asbestos mesothelioma
verdict was reached in March in the case of Michael Sutherland, a former drywaller diagnosed with mesothelioma, a cancer caused by asbestos. The Los Angeles Superior Court jury that heard the case returned its verdict awarding $26.6 million to Michael and his wife Suszi.
Mike testified that he worked as a drywaller in northern San Diego County from 1967, while he was still attending Madison High School, through 1993—with frequent breaks for extended surfing trips to Hawaii and Mexico. He worked at countless residential and commercial jobsites during the construction "boom"that occurred in north county in the 1970s, the same time that cancer-causing asbestos was used in many construction products including joint compound, fire-rated drywall, caulk, stucco, roofing mastic and asbestos cement pipe.
"With all the trades working on top of each other trying to finish one job and move on to the next, it was always dusty,"Mike recalled, "It wasn't until I became a lead maintenance mechanic at UC San Diego and attended a class on job safety in 2003 that I learned that so many of the materials used on the jobs back then contained asbestos."
The Sutherlands' case (LASC case # BC486980) was filed on June 20, 2012. Over 30 defendants were named in the case. Settlements were reached with a number of defendants prior to trial. Stucco manufacturer, Highland Stucco and Lime Products, Inc., the sole remaining defendant at trial, argued that other companies and even Mr. Sutherland himself were responsible for his exposure to asbestos. But the jury ultimately assessed blame on Highland for its role in subjecting Mr. Sutherland and other members of the public to its dangerous products.
"I was surprised to learn at trial just how much asbestos was in stucco,"Mike stated, "even though I rarely worked hands-on with the stuff, I was exposed to dust when the bags were dumped into large mixers and when we had to scrape off areas of over-spray that came into the homes through windows and doors."
Mike is grateful for the jury' award and for the hard work of his legal team, but would gladly trade it for the return of his health. Prior to his diagnosis in May 2012, Mike enjoyed his job at UCSD and had no plans of retiring. He also continued to indulge his life-long passion for surfing, hitting the waves on the iconic surf breaks of north county San Diego two or more times a week.
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