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Judge Awards $90M to 11 Families in Asbestos Cancer Case

A judge in New Jersey has awarded 11 families from Manville more than $90 million for their pain and suffering caused by losing loved ones to an asbestos-related cancer.

Superior Court Judge Ana Viscomi ruled on July 2, awarding the families $90.5 million, to be paid by Anova Holding, AG, and Becon, AG. The companies supplied asbestos to Johns Manville from the 1950s into the 1980s, according to attorney Lea Kagan with Levy Konigsberg, a law firm that represented the families along with law firm Szaferman Lakind.

The lawsuits were filed between 2008 and 2011, but the judge said the legal process lasted as long as it did because the two defendant companies are foreign. Both are based in Switzerland.

The plaintiffs alleged their loved ones died from mesothelioma linked to their exposure to asbestos. Defendants in the asbestos claims will pay damages to plaintiffs, with awards to the families ranging from $4 million to $15 million.

According to The Star-Ledger, the lawsuits were filed by family members of 11 people -- including a mother and daughter -- who died of mesothelioma. Some of the victims worked at the Johns Manville Company, while others did not work at the company but were exposed to asbestos on the clothing of loved ones who did work at Johns Manville.

After hearing testimony from plaintiffs, the judge awarded $90 million to the plaintiffs. The exact awards vary among the plaintiffs, with $4 million going to the family of Virginia Stansley who died at age 81 and $15 million going to the family of Deborah Ann, who died at age 49.

Read our continuing asbestos liability coverage:

» Jury Awards $11 Million in Asbestos Wrongful Death Lawsuit
» 40-year-old English Professor Wins $27.5 Million
» Families of NY Asbestos Workers Awarded $12.5M
» California Jury Awards $10.9M in Mesothelioma Trial
» Mesothelioma Victim Dies Just Before $11M Verdict
» $7.2 Million Verdict for Family of Pennsylvania

Mesothelioma has been linked to asbestos exposure. According to an article by Reuters (5/11/2012), asbestos exposure is generally defined as two weeks of constant contact. Of those exposed to asbestos, approximately one in 20 will develop mesothelioma. Although mesothelioma has a long latency period - some patients may not be diagnosed for decades after exposure, once diagnosed most people do not live beyond five years.

Patients who develop mesothelioma are often exposed to asbestos at work, but because asbestos fibers adhere to clothing, many people who live with those who work with asbestos are also exposed to it. They are then at a risk for developing asbestos-related diseases such as mesothelioma, asbestosis and lung cancer.

In a different lawsuit, reported by The National Trial Lawyers, a jury in Fresno County awarded $10.9 million to the family of a plumber who alleged he developed mesothelioma during his work as a plumber and auto mechanic. James Phillips died in 2013, a year after his diagnosis. He had filed the lawsuit in 2012 shortly after his diagnosis.

The jury awarded $7.4 million in compensatory damages and $3.5 million in punitive damages after finding the plaintiff showed reckless indifference.

Lawsuits have been filed against many companies and employers alleging employees and their loved ones were exposed to asbestos and were not given proper warning about or protection from asbestos fibers.

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