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A jury has awarded plaintiff William Condon of Lake Hopatcong, New Jersey, $7.5 million in an asbestos personal injury case. The amount includes $500,000 for Mr. Condon’s past pain and suffering, an additional $4.5 million for future pain and suffering, $1.5 million to Mr. Condon’s wife for loss of services, and $1 million in punitive damages.
Mr. Condon alleged that he developed mesothelioma, an asbestos-related type of cancer, as a result of exposure to asbestos while he was an employee of Fritz Heating and Cooling between 1973 and 1984, for which he installed boilers and furnaces. Mr. Condon also claimed that he had been exposed to the toxin while working on automobiles that contained asbestos-containing parts.
His original lawsuit was filed against approximately 90 defendants, but the verdict found eleven liable for Mr. Condon’s illness; only one of these, Pecora Corp., is responsible for the punitive damages. Eight of the eleven defendants were no longer part of the case, but they constitute 98% of the compensatory award.
Pecora Corp., which is responsible for the other 2%, is a manufacturer of sealants, including furnace cement. Mr. Condon claimed that he would refer to the manual for each boiler he installed, and that every one of them said to use cement. The punitive damages stemmed from the fact that at the time of Mr. Condon’s exposure, Pecora Corp. had an asbestos personal injury lawsuit filed against it by the company’s own president, who had, like Mr. Condon, developed mesothelioma. Pecora Corp. continued to manufacture asbestos-containing cement for another five years, even though the company was fully aware of the health risks associated with the toxic product.
Each year, there are approximately 3,000 individuals diagnosed with mesothelioma, despite a ban on asbestos that dates back to the 1970s. Mesothelioma has an extremely high mortality rate; only 10% of those who develop the disease survive for five years beyond their diagnosis.