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Family of Woman Killed by Second-Hand Asbestos Exposure Awarded $3.5 Million

Barbara Bobo was a homemaker who, like so many other wives, spent years laundering her husband James’ work clothes. When James would return home from his job at the Athens, Alabama Browns Ferry Nuclear Plant, he would hand over his dust-covered work clothes and she would shake them out in the laundry room, put them in the washing machine, and then clean the dust from the floors with a broom and a dustpan. Little did she or her husband know that the dust she was handling, sweeping up and inhaling was asbestos. James died of asbestos-induced lung cancer in 1997 and Barbara was diagnosed with malignant pleural mesothelioma in November of 2011. After painful surgery and chemotherapy, she died in 2013 of complications from her illness. Her survivors were just awarded a $3.5 million award for her pain and suffering by an Alabama judge.

The Browns Ferry Nuclear Plant was owned and operated by the Tennessee Valley Authority, and Judge Lynwood Smith of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Alabama ruled that the company had violated worker safety regulations set by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), as well as the safety guidelines that the company had put in place for itself.

Asbestos has a long and controversial history of use in the United States. Though the mineral offers industry a number of benefits, including low costs and excellent heat and flame resistance, it was suspected of causing health problems as early as the first century in Ancient Rome. By the 1920s the British Parliament was investigating questions raised about its health risks, and asbestos regulations were first enacted by U.S. Congress in the 1950s. Still, companies continued to use the deadly substance and to withhold warning information or safety precautions from their employees. In the case of James Bobo, records show that had the Tennessee Valley Authority and its Browns Ferry Nuclear Plant simply followed its own safeguards, as well as those established by OSHA, there is a very good chance that he and his wife would have been protected from the dangerous toxin. Studies have shown that many family members were at risk of what is known as second-hand exposure to asbestos from the carcinogenic dust having been carried home on work clothes, skin and hair.

The $3.5 million judgment was awarded to the Bobo’s daughters, Melissa Ann Bobo and Shannon Jean Bobo Cox, who were co-personal representatives of their mother’s estate.

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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