Mesothelioma Victim in Portland Awarded $5.4 Million By Jury
Robert Sprague has malignant mesothelioma, and has been told that he has less than two years to live. He is a 75-year-old U.S. Navy veteran who served from 1960 to 1964, and who later worked as a pipe fitter in Oregon and Massachusetts from 1965 to 1987. He and his wife recently filed a lawsuit against John Crane, Inc., a military supplier that provided asbestos-contaminated materials to the armed forces as well as for the equipment that he worked with after his years of service, and which the couple claims was responsible for his illness. An Oregon jury agreed with the couple’s assertion, awarding them a $5.4 million verdict to provide for his medical costs and other damages.
The mesothelioma lawsuit was heard in Multnoma County Circuit Court. The jury heard testimony about Mr. Sprague’s years of service in the Navy, where the insulation on the ships he worked on was heavily contaminated with asbestos. They also heard about his later work, which involved working with asbestos-contaminated gaskets and packing materials manufactured by John Crane, Inc. Crane is one of the most notorious of the 20th century asbestos companies: there is substantial evidence that the company was aware of the dangers of asbestos as long ago as the 1930s, but kept the information a secret in order to continue making larger profits. The company has been held responsible for the deaths and illnesses of countless people, and has been forced to provide millions of dollars worth of damages to those who they knowingly exposed to asbestos. Mr. Sprague learned of his illness in 2015.
Malignant mesothelioma is the deadliest of the many illnesses that are caused by exposure to asbestos. Others include asbestosis and asbestos lung cancer. When asbestos particles are inhaled or ingested, they become embedded in the body’s cells. Because the fibers are needlelike, once they are in place they cannot be dislodged. Over the years the presence of the carcinogen causes cell death and mutations of the surrounding cells, which eventually grow into cancerous tumors. The condition has an extremely long latency period, which means that symptoms often do not begin to appear until decades after the victim has been exposed to the dangerous material. Mr. Sprague and his wife were awarded $3 million in punitive damages, as well as $813,000 in medical compensation and $1.63 million for their pain and suffering.
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