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Asbestos brakes stop man's life, jury awards $10.9 million

A jury in Fresno awarded the family of a man who died of mesothelioma $10.9 million in damages as a result of his contracting mesothelioma because of his use of Bendix asbestos brake pads and linings. The ruling came against Honeywell, the successor company that purchased Bendix in the 1980s. Bendix, like many manufacturers of brake parts used asbestos, because of its ability to withstand high temperatures.

The jury verdict was split, with $7.4 million being award to the family as compensatory damages, which is recompense for the premature death from mesothelioma at age 59 of their husband and father. The $3.5 million was awarded as punitive damages, which are designed to punish Honeywell/Bendix for "reckless indifference" in their use of asbestos.

The article points out that millions individuals during the golden age of the automobile in the U.S. worked in cars in their backyards and garages. Brake maintenance would have been seen as something every backyard mechanic could handle on their own, and so they would have been exposed to the deadly asbestos fibers floating on the brake dust they may have cavalierly blown off with their own breath.

The reckless indifference of Bendix and Honeywell would have come because they knew there were "problems" with asbestos, and many companies even began to employ the use of respirators for their employees manufacturing the items that contained asbestos, but often they waited years before issuing any warnings to purchasers.

Why? Maybe because they were concerned that if they informed users that there was a potential risk from their product they could be sued. Of course, there was a risk, and they have been sued.

The baffling aspect of this line of reasoning is did the manufacturers really believe that when individuals began to die from mesothelioma, that no one would suspect it was related to the asbestos? You can only develop mesothelioma from asbestos, so connecting the dots always leads to the manufacturer.

Source: The Business Journal, "Fresno jury awards $10.9M in mesothelioma case," Business Journal staff, June 2, 2014

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