A former worker of Chicago Pneumatic, a tool manufacturing plant, recently won $4 million in a lawsuit over his mesothelioma. The plaintiff, Nicholas Dominick, developed mesothelioma and lung cancer from being exposed to asbestos at Chicago Pneumatic. Mesothelioma lawyers at Pintas & Mullins detail this case and the circumstances that led to the plaintiff's cancer diagnosis.
Dominick was exposed to asbestos through the heat treatment processes at Chicago Pneumatic, an industrial manufacturer that sells power tools, generators, hydraulic equipment and air compressors. Asbestos was, and remains, a common ingredient in industrial products because of its extraordinary heat and fire resistance. Not only could it be used in a wide range of applications, but the material was inexpensive to buy from distributors.
The health dangers of asbestos have been known since the 1930s, when the first medical reports were published on lung diseases in workers handling the material. Over the next several decades, study after study was published confirming the link between debilitating and fatal diseases and exposure to asbestos.
Industrial companies already relied heavily on the material, however, and resisted moving to more expensive materials for their products. Despite knowing that inhaling asbestos could lead to lung cancer, asbestosis, and mesothelioma, American corporations failed to inform their employees that working with or around it could be at all dangerous.
This is how workers like Dominick and millions of others like him were exposed. Companies like Chicago Pneumatic bought asbestos-containing products from distributors, which blatantly chose not to disclose the serious health risks of asbestos. Employees then were never warned, never given protective equipment, and are now dying by the thousands from asbestos-related diseases.
Dominick's lawsuit was not filed against the manufacturing plant he worked for, but against the company that supplied it asbestos products, Pacemaker Steel & Piping Co. The jury found Pacemaker responsible for causing his cancer from the asbestos-containing bags and boards it supplied to Chicago Pneumatic.
The $4 million award is the largest asbestos verdict in New York against a distributor, and the largest asbestos verdict ever in Oneida County. Dominick's lawsuit also named another company, Caterpillar Inc., for causing his asbestos exposure. This exposure occurred at a different job, for the New York State Department of Transportation. Dominick believed he was exposed to asbestos through brakes and other vehicle parts manufactured by Caterpillar.
Brakes, gaskets and many other auto parts used to be made with large quantities of asbestos, again because of its heat resistance. Many auto companies - including Ford, which we recently reported on here - have faced liability for exposing mechanics, factory workers, and other employees to asbestos.
In the middle of Dominick's trial Caterpillar decided to settle in a confidential deal.
Another New York asbestos trial is currently ongoing against Amtrak. The suit was filed by dozens of Amtrak's insurers over liability for exposing workers to asbestos and other toxic chemicals, among other issues. The insurers are asking to court to decide whether they are required to cover Amtrak for asbestos liability claims, which total millions of dollars.