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Cruise Ship Worker Successfully Sues Carnival For Asbestos Exposure

It is well known that working on board ships and in shipyards in the years prior to awareness about asbestos’ dangers poses a health risk. This is one of the reasons that such a large percentage of America’s mesothelioma victims and victims of other asbestos-related diseases are Navy veterans. But even with this knowledge, a recent court case represents a first in the field of asbestos litigation – the case was brought by the family of a deceased crew member who had spend years working on board a cruise ship, and the defendant was Carnival Cruise Lines. Though the cruise industry has faced claims in the past, this was the first case to actually go to trial. Health advocates are encouraged to find that the case was decided in favor of the plaintiff: the family was awarded a reduced verdict of $3.6 million.

The case was brought by the family of Benedetto Settimi Caraffa, who had worked for the cruise line from 1985 to 2000. He was diagnosed with lung cancer in 2001 and died four years later. According to testimony presented at trial, Caraffa had worked aboard several different Carnival ships, including the Mari Gras, the Carnivale, the Festivale and the Tropicale. All four are now out of service, and were steam ships that were insulated with asbestos. The deceased’s family sought just over $10 million in damages, and presented testimony from physicians who had treated the electrician. All testified that asbestos exposure had caused or contributed to his illness, though it was acknowledged that he had been a smoker who had quit prior to having gone to work for Carnival.

Carnival’s defense included testimony by Dr. Allan Feingold, a South Miami pulmonologist who is well know for testifying against plaintiffs in asbestos cases. Dr. Feingold and another physician testified that there was not sufficient asbestos in Caraffa’s lungs to have caused his cancer and blamed his illness on his smoking. The cruise line also had a representative testify that there was no proof of the presence of asbestos on board the ship, but Caraffa’s evidence included testimony by crew member Giorgio Rispoli, who had been a Carnival chief engineer and who testified that asbestos was throughout the areas where he had worked.

The jury awarded $10.3 million to Caraffa’s family but the award was then reduced by 65 percent because of comparative negligence assigned to Caraffa for having smoked cigarettes.

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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