A New Jersey state appeals court has upheld a record $30.3 million jury award in an asbestos-related mesothelioma lawsuit. The case is also noteworthy because of the test recognized by the court for a mesothelioma case.
Mark Buttitta was exposed to asbestos as a child. His father handled brakes and clutches containing the substance while working at a General Motors warehouse and carried the asbestos fibers home on his work clothes.
Buttitta was then directly exposed to asbestos while working at a GM warehouse during his summer and winter breaks from college.
In upholding the jury award, the largest mesothelioma award in New Jersey history, the Superior Court noted that the frequency, regularity and proximity test had to be viewed differently than the test for another asbestos-related disease, asbestosis.
Mesothelioma, a cancer that is often fatal, can develop from infrequent exposure to a relatively small amount of asbestos. Asbestosis usually requires much more prolonged exposure.
The court ruled that Buttitta’s “rather brief work history” with asbestos was enough to establish a medical link with his mesothelioma some 30 years later.
The $30.3 million award broke down this way: $8 million for pain and suffering, $2 million for loss of consortium, $9.3 million for lost earnings, $2 million for loss of services, and $3 million to each of Buttitta’s three daughters for loss of parental care.
Cite: Buttitta v. Allied Signal, Inc., Superior Court of NJ, 5/5/10.