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Record $190M Awarded in Asbestos Lawsuit

July 25, 2013

New York, NY: An asbestos verdict of $190 million has been awarded in a lawsuit brought by five men who were exposed to asbestos-tainted products and equipment during their jobs as steamfitters, plumbers, and construction workers.

A panel of New York Supreme Court jurors found the two defendant companies had acted negligently and recklessly, then rendering a verdict worth a total of $190 million, the largest consolidated asbestos verdict in New York history. It is believed that the $60 million individual amounts two of the men received are the largest individual sums awarded in a New York asbestos case.

Daniel Blouin, an attorney with Weitz & Luxenberg, the firm representing the plaintiffs, said he and his team tackled the case by telling the jury a story of five men who worked honest jobs for decades only to be repaid with immense suffering. "We wanted to show the jury the sorrow our clients were and are going through,"Blouin said. "And not just physically but psychologically. Once you are exposed to asbestos and develop mesothelioma, you know your fate. It' an unbearably heavy burden."

Lawyers for the plaintiffs told the jury there wasn't an amount they could give the men that would be unreasonable. The defendants in this case subjected thousands of men and women to a terribly toxic substance. It is likely the companies took a calculated risk in doing so. That isn't a debt that can be repaid, the attorneys said.

The jury, returning a verdict at 4 p.m. on July 23, found both defendants – boiler companies Cleaver Brooks and Burnham – negligent in having failed to warn about the dangers of the asbestos used in connection with their equipment. The verdict said both companies had acted with reckless disregard for human life.

All five of the plaintiffs were tradesmen from the tri-state area.

One man, from Toms River, NJ, worked in the 50s and 60s as a pipefitter in the Brooklyn Navy Yard. He was exposed to asbestos daily while fitting pipes into the salt-water distilling units aboard aircraft carriers like the USS Constellation and USS Independence.

Another, from Oyster Bay, NY, worked for nearly 30 years as a plumber, handling dozens of different types of products contaminated with asbestos.

A third, of Middle Village, NY, was also exposed to asbestos working as a plumber in Brooklyn, Queens, and Rockland Co.

Another man, from Howard Beach, NY, was exposed to asbestos on the job as a painter and construction worker. He was involved with the removal and demolition of boilers containing asbestos-laden parts.

The final client, from Kent, CN, also worked with boilers and boiler parts in the course of his job as a steamfitter.

All five men developed mesothelioma as a result of asbestos exposure. Three have died of complications related to the disease.

The trial (Index Nos. 190008/12, 190026/12, 190200/12, 190183/12, 190184/12) was held in New York Supreme Court before Judge Joan Madden.

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