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Jury Awards Dying Painter $17M

Monday, August 17, 2015

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A former commercial painter who was diagnosed with terminal mesothelioma after being exposed to asbestos has received a $17 million award from a Miami jury.

The jurors returned their verdict Thursday (Aug. 13), finding that Koch Industries-owned Georgia-Pacific LLC. was 55 percent liable for the 74-year-old’s injury, according to various reports and a webcast of the trial.  

court
©iStock.com / aerogondo

A Miami jury awarded former painting supervisor Roy Taylor, 74, millions for medical bills, pain and suffering following the nine-day trial.

Jurors found co-defendant Dow Chemical Company subsidiary Union Carbide Corp. not liable in the asbestos case.

The award was roughly $12 million less than the plaintiff had sought.

Overseas Exposure

Roy Taylor alleged that he developed mesothelioma—a rare form of cancer which is almost always associated with asbestos exposure —from working as a painting supervisor in Saudi Arabia in the late 1970s.

Taylor’s attorneys from the Ferraro Law Firm argued that Georgia-Pacific’s joint compound, which contained asbestos supplied by Union Carbide, was applied to building walls that Taylor sanded down to prep for painting.

Taylor’s former employer, Raytheon, was found to be 30 percent responsible, but was not a party to the lawsuit. Taylor was found 15 percent responsible, thus, the total amount of damages he is ultimately able to collect for medical bills, pain and suffering is around $9.4 million.

His wife, Suzanne, was also awarded $4 million in the case, for loss of comfort and services.

Arguments in Court

The verdict was handed down following a nine-day trial. During the trial, a physician testified that Taylor may have less than a year to live, reports said.

Taylor was often covered with white dust at the end of the day while working in Saudi Arabia, according to his attorneys.

asbestos removal
©iStock.com / bermau

According to OSHA, "Asbestos workers have increased chances of getting two principal types of cancer: cancer of the lung tissue itself and mesothelioma, a cancer of the thin membrane that surrounds the lung and other internal organs." These cancers do not develop immediately following exposure to the material, but appear only after a number of years.

Attorneys for the two defendants, however, argued that Taylor’s cancer could not be “definitively linked” to his time in Saudi Arabia or their products.

Upon his return to America, Taylor ran a painting business for 30 years and he could have been exposed to other asbestos-containing products during that time, reports said, citing arguments made in court.

The plaintiff’s attorney responded to those arguments as “pure speculation,” but admitted to Courtroom View Network that the case presented a discovery challenge as it involved asbestos exposure that occurred decades ago overseas.

No Appeal Planned

A Georgia-Pacific spokeswoman told D+D News, that the company was disappointed in the outcome of the case, but did not plan to appeal the verdict.

“Georgia-Pacific would like to express sympathy for Mr. and Mrs. Taylor and their family,” spokeswoman Karen Cole said in an emailed statement.

“We are disappointed with the verdict, as we believe the evidence in the trial established that Mr. Taylor was not exposed to Georgia-Pacific’s product and that our product did not play a role in his disease.”

Georgia-Pacific, headquartered in Atlanta, GA, is one of the world's leading makers of tissue, pulp, paper, packaging, building products and related chemicals

The Taylors previously settled cases against Imperial Industries Inc. of Pompano Beach and a subsidiary, Premix-Marbletite Manufacturing Co., which sold spray products, according to the Daily Business Review.

   

Tagged categories: Asbestos; Building materials; Health and safety; Laws and litigation; Lawsuits; Paint; Painters; Surface preparation

Comment from Mike McCloud, (8/17/2015, 7:23 AM)

I am sorry for Mr. Taylor's pain, suffering, and ultimate passing. But this kind of verdict? I guarantee there was cigarettes involved. And he was 74. We are all going to die. They should award a years pay for each year he has left on his life expectancy. This kind of verdict hurts the companies and the workers looking to advance themselves.


Comment from Bob Johnson, (8/17/2015, 8:25 AM)

Mr Mccloud, did you think about your answer before you wrote it or was it a kneejerk reaction? How can you guarantee cigarettes were involved? Why, just because he was a painter, and you know they all smoke and drink. Oh my golly he is 74,practically dead now huh? He could have easily lived another 10 years with the expectation of decent health. A years pay for a year of life, so this is what it all boils down to? A year of a mans life is only worth the salary he made in a year? So with that thinking, a wealthy mans life is worth much more than your average Joe.Nice to see that you are so enlightened that you know what a man's life is worth. You are correct, we are all going to die, I wonder at the end when you know its coming, would you pay a years salary for one more good year, or would it be worth so much more.


Comment from M. Halliwell, (8/17/2015, 12:14 PM)

Mike, you don't get mesothelioma from cigarettes. Smoking is synergistic in its formation (i.e. if you smoke and are exposed to asbestos, you chances of getting mesothelioma are much higher), but without asbestos exposure, you don't get mesothelioma...other lung cancers yes, but not mesothelioma. Somewhere Mr. Taylor worked had asbestos joint and taping compound and in doing wall prep, he was exposed...considering we've known (with more than just minor anecdotal evidence) about the risks of asbestos for close to 100 years now, hopefully we'll see a decline in the number of asbestos obituaries coming.


Comment from peter gibson, (8/17/2015, 3:36 PM)

Clearly the sleazy,slimy lawyers had a hand in the amount.There are thousands of exposed workers out there.That kind of number is ridiculous for a boozer and smoker on top of it. I agree give him x amount per year to cover overhead.


Comment from Mike McCloud, (8/18/2015, 8:25 AM)

My father-in-law died from asbestosis and I watched it for 9 months. It's not a fun way to go. I was told by many doctors that the chances of getting asbestosis if you don't smoke, is very small. What is this mans life worth? 10 years pay? 10 cows in India? How about 10 camels from where he got the disease in the Middle East where he contracted the disease. The point is, unfortunately, Mr. Taylor will not enjoy the fruits of his years of working, his heirs will... and the lawyers...knee jerk reactions.


Comment from M. Halliwell, (8/18/2015, 11:40 AM)

Mike, I'm sorry for your loss. Yes, smoking is synergistic and greatly increases your likelihood of developing asbestosis or mesothelioma if you are exposed, but your doctor not quite correct. The current understanding of asbestos exposure is that your relative risk of lung cancer from either smoking or asbestos exposure is only about 10%...but with both, it is about 70%. Problem with asbestos exposure is that it can take as little as one exposure and can have a latency period of up to 20 years to end up with asbestosis or mesothelioma....factors that make it extremely hard to pin down the actual odds of developing the disease (after all, if smoking, drinking, a car crash or something else doesn't get you first, then that exposure from your first job out of school might get you when you are 40. Sure, we can debate the merits of the amount, but what have the medical bills been? What is a man's "golden years" worth? I don't know and I'm glad I don't have to judge it. Personally, I'll protect myself as best I can and try not to have any asbestos related illness in my future.


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