Los Angeles, California - An elderly man who worked for more than 30 years as a cement contractor and construction superintendent in several Southern California locations and for several different companies has been awarded $48 million by a California court.
According to an article posted on the Baldwin Park Patch, Bobbie Izell, 86, and his wife, were awarded $30 million in compensatory damages when the jury found numerous companies responsible for Izell’s bout with mesothelioma cancer. The jury also found that the Union Carbide Corporation “acted with malice” and that particular company was ordered to pay an additional $18 million. Attorneys for the Izells note that this award is the largest of its kind in the nation so far this year.
The suit was initiated last September against Union Carbide and a number of other defendants including Riverside Cement and California Portland Cement Company. Izell’s mesothelioma was a result of his work for those and other companies from 1947 through 1980. The article points out that, during those years, Izell was responsible for the building of thousands of homes, commercial buildings, and churches. Many of the structures were built with products that contained asbestos, hence Mr. Izell’s consistent exposure to the toxic mineral.
In addition, Izell was a do-it-yourselfer, buying properties that needed renovating and then fixing them up in order to sell or rent them. Similarly, many of the products he used in the renovation process contained asbestos.
During the trial, Union Carbide argued that their particular type of asbestos – known as Calidria asbestos – did not cause cancer. However, internal memos from the company revealed that staff physicians knew the material was making workers sick but their findings were hidden by the company’s sales and marketing staff in a mass cover-up, typical of many companies that were manufacturing asbestos products during the decades before the use of asbestos was halted.
Izell was diagnosed with asbestos cancer last July. Since that time, he and his wife – who alleged loss of consortium – have retired to Arkansas. Izell’s attorney says that the plaintiff sleeps 12-15 hours a day, exhausted from the symptoms of mesothelioma but doing his best to keep in “good spirits.”