It is now clear that exposure to asbestos is not just a danger to those who were originally exposed. Second-hand exposure is also an issue. Indeed, it is often fatal.
Most cases of second-hand exposure involve workers carrying home asbestos fibers in their work clothes, which are then laundered by a spouse or other family member. For this reason, second-hand exposure is sometimes referred to as “take-home asbestos exposure.”
Late last month, a trial judge in Louisiana awarded $7 million to the family members of a woman who had died of mesothelioma. Her husband had worked around asbestos during his career working for an oil company. She suffered take-home exposure to asbestos because she laundered her husband’s work clothes.
The woman’s four adult children – who were very close with their mother – were each awarded $750,000 in compensation for her death. In total, damages came to $7 million.
An attorney representing the plaintiffs said: “Take-home asbestos exposure will continue to harm families across America due to the negligence of companies that failed to properly protect workers. We are honored to have represented [this] family and proud to bring them justice for their unimaginable grieving, pain, and suffering.”
Money cannot adequately compensate for any wrongful death, especially the painful death that mesothelioma victims often suffer. But financial compensation is necessary, and it serves other important purposes as well. Every asbestos lawsuit victory sends a message that companies will no longer be allowed to put profits ahead of employee health and safety.