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When a mesothelioma victim or their family files a mesothelioma lawsuit, their attorney will generally warn them that the process may be arduous. Even after years of overwhelming evidence that asbestos causes mesothelioma and other serious illnesses, companies fight hard against taking financial responsibility for the damages that they have done, and this was recently seen in a case that pitted Honeywell International against the family of a California man who died of the rare and always fatal form of cancer.

The case involved a judgment of over $5.8 million that was awarded to the wife and surviving children of the mesothelioma victim, James Lester Phillips. Phillips had died at the age of 59 after having been exposed to asbestos repeatedly throughout his life, starting at the age of 13 when he learned to change brakes. Through the years he worked at gas stations, repaired his own brakes and clutches, worked in maintenance around steam pipes  and asbestos insulation, and also worked installing asbestos cement pipe. Prior to his death he filed a lawsuit against over 25 defendants, including Honeywell. Honeywell is the successor in interest of Bendix, which manufactured many of the asbestos-containing products to which he had been exposed. Most of the cases were settled out of court, leaving only Honeywell to defend against the lawsuit, which was taken over by his wife and children after his death. The jury found the company negligent, resulting in a final amended decision of over $1.9 million in noneconomic damages, over $400,000 in economic damages and $3.5 million in punitive damages Honeywell appealed the $5.8 million total arguing that the verdict was inconsistent, that the court had provided improper jury instructions and that there was insufficient proof of malice or oppression to warrant the punitive damages.

The court decided against Honeywell and in favor of the family. In making their decision, they carefully reviewed all of the evidence and rulings that had been presented for the jury to reach their decision of guilt, deciding that all had been proper. They then reviewed Honeywell’s assertion that there was no evidence of Bendix having “engaged in despicable conduct involving a willful and conscious disregard for the safety of others.” The court decided that the evidence supported this decision as well, and based their decision on two factors: that Bendix was aware of the health risks associated with asbestos, and that Bendix failed to take any actions to avoid the dangers of exposure to asbestos.  This ruling of malice is really the crux of almost every mesothelioma lawsuit. Had asbestos companies ate responsibly and shown interest in the health of those exposed to their products, many deaths could have been avoided.

If you or someone you love has been the victim of negligence or malice on the part of an asbestos company, then you know the suffering that results. If you need assistance or information, the Patient Advocates at Mesothelioma.net are here to help. Call us at 1-800-692-8608 to learn more.

Author: 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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