When Francisco Mata worked for Park Water, between 1970 and 1985, he had no idea that his job would eventually lead to his son Alfred being diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma. But Mata’s job cutting, installing and repairing asbestos-cement water pipes for the utility company, meant that he was unknowingly carrying the deadly particles home on his clothing, and subsequently exposing his son to the carcinogen every time he entered the house, hugged him, read to him or played with him. A Los Angeles California jury heard the details of the second-hand exposure and decided that Liberty Utilities (formerly Park Water) was negligent. They awarded Alfred Mata and his wife $11.4 million for the harm that the company was done to them.
There were many companies that were aware that asbestos was causing mesothelioma and other sicknesses decades before Francisco Mata was employed at Park Water, but by the time that he was hired the material’s impact was well known. In 1971 the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) had put protections in place for workers, including many rules designed to protect workers from asbestos exposure and making clear the link between the mineral and diseases like asbestosis and mesothelioma. Despite a series of emergency standards, major notices, final rules and notices related to asbestos, Park Water never informed employees of the risk, and never put safety measures in place. Simple measures such as providing separate lockers for work clothes and street clothes would have prevented asbestos from having carried the toxic material into his home and putting his family at risk.
The jury hearing the take home asbestos case found the company guilty of negligence and responsible for Mata’s illness. They also found that the company had violated both federal and state health and safety laws for over ten years. Perhaps most importantly, they judged that the company’s behavior towards its employees and their families was malicious.
The behavior displayed by Park Water was unfortunately common during the 1970s, and lead to tens of thousands of people being diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma. If this rare and fatal form of cancer has affected you or someone you love, contact the Patient Advocates at Mesothelioma.net today to learn how we can help. We can be reached at 1-800-692-8608.