For more than 10 years, Perry Adams worked in a paper pulp mill in Alabama. It was hard work but he earned a decent living. However, about 25 years after his work as a multicraft mechanic had ended, Adams was dead, killed by asbestos-caused cancer, a result of the many years he spent inhaling the deadly fibers.
But this week, Adams’ widow was awarded a bit of retribution, though she can never have her husband back. Nonetheless, a Savannah, Georgia jury found the defendant in this mesothelioma case – John Crane Inc. – guilty, and awarded Mrs. Adams $2 million.
This was actually the second time Crane was found guilty for Adams’ injuries, notes an article in the Daily Report. The first time, in 2013, Crane and three other co-defendants were named in the case, with two of the others settling out-of-court and the other one cleared of all responsibility.
However, one juror on that case refused to reward any damages and a mistrial was eventually called.
During this most-recent 10-day trial, attended by the widow, Vera Adams, the jury heard about how Crane never tested its products to determine if they were safe, including the gaskets and packing material the late Mr. Adams regularly encountered at Mahrt Paper Mill in Cottonwood, Alabama.
Instead, Crane executives depended on the findings profiled in so-called “scientific” journal articles, penned by Chemrisk, a litigation consultant Adams’ lawyers claim was paid about $15 million by John Crane Inc. to produce “doubt science” articles about its products.
This time, Crane attorneys argued that the deceased man’s exposure levels were too low to cause any harm, but it has long been determined that even a miniscule amount of exposure to asbestos can result in the formation of tumors and an eventual diagnosis of mesothelioma, which can take decades to appear.
Chemrisk wasn’t there to argue the case this time. However, an industrial hygienist was called by the defendant’s side and made similar claims to the court.
In the end, the jury took about three hours to decide the case, awarding a total of more than $4 million and placing about 40 percent of the blame for Adams’ illness on Crane, totalling just over $2 million. The remainder of the award was split over seven additional co-defendants the judge allowed to be included on the verdict form.
Paper mill workers have long been near the top of the list of those most likely to develop asbestos-related illnesses including mesothelioma. Machine setters and operators, production managers, line workers….all were potentially exposed to asbestos on a regular basis.
Those who worked in an area of the mill where the drying process took place were especially susceptible to exposure, working with dryer felts and fabrics that contained asbestos.