Brennen James Atkeson was just 38 years old when he died of malignant mesothelioma. The Oklahoma man blamed raw asbestos products he was exposed to as a child, and sued the manufacturer, Union Carbide Corporation, their distributor, Montello, Inc., and drilling rig products manufacturer National Oilwell Varco. Though he died before his case could be brought to trial, in May 2019 a jury awarded his family $8 million in damages in compensatory damages. The companies appealed, trying to cast blame on other companies, by this week the Oklahoma Court of Civil Appeals rejected their arguments and ordered them to pay the grieving family what they were owed.
Second-Hand Exposure to Asbestos on Stepfather’s Clothing Led to Mesothelioma Death
According to evidence presented at trial, Mr. Atkeson’s mesothelioma was caused by asbestos carried home on his stepfather, Ronnie Pratt’s clothing between 1980 and 1985. Pratt had never been warned of the dangers of the asbestos he was exposed to while he worked as an oil field worker, or that the asbestos dust on his clothing was putting his family members at risk.
Atkeson filed suit in 2016, and after his death his mother, Kim Fox-Jones, continued the claim against the three companies. The jury hearing the case in 2019 agreed that the companies had been negligent and awarded the family $8 million, and all three defendants filed an appeal blaming unnamed third parties for his illness.
Appeals Court Denies Asbestos Companies’ Arguments Against Liability for Mesothelioma
In their review of the case, the appeals court reviewed and denied the arguments submitted by the mesothelioma defendants, referring to what they were doing as “blame shifting.” They wrote in part, “It is clear that their effort was to relieve themselves of that duty by passing it along to third parties, such as Mr. Pratt’s employers or the companies that purchased the drilling mud product from Montello. The trial court’s order outlawing such blame-shifting was properly entered.” The court also agreed that the jury’s conclusions about the companies’ role in Mr. Atkeson’s death was reasonable based on the evidence that was submitted.
If you or someone you love has been diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma, it is important that you have an experienced ally working on your behalf against those responsible. For more information on how we can help, contact the Patient Advocates at Mesothelioma.net today at 1-800-692-8608.