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Take-Home Mesothelioma Trial Ends With $3.5 Million Jury Award

A child’s memory of their mother washing their father’s dirty work clothes each night is one that is shared by countless Americans, as well as by people all around the world. But for Ramona Brandes, a public defender in Washington state, that memory will forever be linked to her mother’s death, as the clothes that she was laundering were covered with asbestos dust, which caused her eventual diagnosis of mesothelioma. Now a jury hearing the case against the company responsible for that exposure has awarded her mother’s estate $3.5 million, saying that Brand Insulations was liable for negligence in her mother’s death.

Ramona’s father, Ramond Brandes, had worked for years at the ARCO Cherry Point refinery in Ferndale, Whatcom County in Washington. He was exposed to Brand’s asbestos-contaminated insulation on a daily basis and would come home from work with his clothing covered with asbestos dust and debris. Her mother would take his clothing and shake it out before putting it into the laundry, thus spreading the toxin. Brandes said, “My mom would shake out the big bits of dust, the asbestos that is harmful you can’t see it, you can’t smell it, you can’t taste it. She would wash his clothes and sweep up the laundry room.” Her father died of a variety of conditions, including asbestosis, and her mother started showing symptoms of mesothelioma, including exhaustion, in February of 2014. She died the day before closing arguments were made in her case.

Brandes remembers that, “ARCO, when they built the refinery, put in four showers for over 200 workers. You would have to wait hours to take a shower after a shift. My dad didn’t, and they did not provide any laundry service,” thus leaving the task to the workers and exposing everybody in their home to the contaminated clothing. The lawsuit was filed against seven different defendants, including ARCO, Brand Insulations, Kaiser Gypsum, Hanson Permanente Cement, Metalclad Insulation, Metropolitan Life Insurance and Union Carbide. All but Brand settled with the family.

Ramona Brandes and her seven siblings were also likely exposed to asbestos, though to date there is no report that any of them have exhibited any symptoms of any asbestos-related diseases. Representatives for Brand hav indicated that pending review by King County Superior Court Judge William Downing, the company would “anticipate an appeal.”

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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