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Buffalo Jury Awards $1.42 Million to Mesothelioma Victim

The family of a 65-year old man who died on Christmas Day in 2013 – just four months after being diagnosed with mesothelioma – was awarded damages of $1.42 million by a state supreme court jury in Buffalo, New York.

William R. Voelker had enlisted in the Navy in the 1960s, shortly after his graduation from John F. Kennedy High School in Cheektowaga, and it was determined that he had been exposed to asbestos in parts made by John Crane, Inc. a manufacturer of parts for engine spaces that were used in the U.S. Navy ships that he worked on between 1967 and 1971.

The wrongful death case included nine days of testimony before Justice Deborah Chimes and a seated jury, who heard testimony on behalf of Voelker, as well as from the Chicago-based manufacturer of asbestos gaskets. Though Voelker and his family actually lived in Omaha, Nebraska, it had originally been believed that his mesothelioma was a result of exposure to his father’s work clothes when he was growing up. His father had served as a brick mason at Republic Steel in Western New York. Other companies had been named in the family’s original lawsuit, but all of them had been previously resolved, leaving only John Crane Inc. defending itself.

John Crane Inc. had previously been shown to have known about the dangers posed by exposure to asbestos. Evidence exists that the company had attempted to conceal this information from its customers as far back as the 1940s. Still, the company’s attorneys brought in expert witnesses to testify that though its products did contain asbestos, it was “encapsulated” so that it could do no harm. Witnesses testifying on behalf of Voelker’s family contradicted this testimony, and expressed concern about other Navy veterans that might also have been exposed to the company’s products.

According to Voelker’s attorney, the jury heard evidence regarding mesothelioma’s devastating impact. Though mesothelioma is always considered to be a fatal disease, Voelker’s case progressed extremely quickly and was particularly painful. He underwent aggressive surgery, radiation therapy and chemotherapy. After listening to nine days of testimony, the jury awarded the family more than $400,000 to cover these medical expenses, as well as additional damages for pain and suffering.

Terri Oppenheimer

Terri Oppenheimer is an independent writer, editor and proofreader. She graduated from the College of William and Mary with a degree in English. Her dreams of a writing career were diverted by a need to pay her bills. She spent a few years providing copy for a major retailer, then landed a lucrative career in advertising sales. With college bills for all three of her kids paid, she left corporate America for a return to her original goal of writing. She specializes in providing content for websites and finds tremendous enjoyment in the things she learns while doing her research. Her specific areas of interest include health and fitness, medical research, and the law.

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