Appeals Court Upholds $9 Million Mesothelioma Verdict
The widow of a man who died of malignant mesothelioma won a hard-fought battle against Northrop Grumman Systems Corporation the other day when a South Florida appeals court ruled in her favor and upheld a $9 million verdict. The company’s attorneys had maintained that there was insufficient proof that her late husband’s illness was caused by asbestos in its facilities, but the appellate judges rejected that order, upbraiding the company for hypocrisy.
The case revolved around the illness of Dennis Britt, who died of mesothelioma in the midst of his original lawsuit against the defense contractor. Mr. Britt had been an employee benefits advisor whose job responsibilities included visiting Northrop Grumman’s commercial and industrial sites in order to speak to employees and sign them up for coverage. Britt and his wife Rosa-Maria argued that the asbestos contaminating the job sites was responsible for his illness, and the jury that originally heard the lawsuit agreed. They awarded the widow $8.5 million in compensatory damages, and provided the estate with over $519,000 to pay for the funeral and medical expenses that had been incurred. The company then appealed the verdict, arguing that there was no way to prove that the asbestos that had caused Britt’s mesothelioma had come from their locations.
In handing down the verdict, the judges of the 3rd District Court of Appeals pointed out that it was hypocritical for the company to maintain that there was no evidence of asbestos contamination when the company hadn’t been responsible enough to monitor their own air quality over the years. “Having failed to monitor and quantify airborne asbestos levels at Northrop’s plants during the applicable years, Northrop is hardly in a position to demand precise quantification,” they wrote. “On such a record, the pathology and medical records reflecting the existence and level of asbestos fibers in Mr. Britt’s lungs, coupled with his personal testimony regarding his visits to the premises and what he observed while there – followed by his undisputed death from mesothelioma – constitutes competent, substantial evidence supporting the verdict.”
Mesothelioma is a cruel disease that claims the lives of all those who receive a diagnosis. For information on the best resources available to victims of this condition, contact the Patient Advocates at Mesothelioma.net at 1-800-692-8608.
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