A Retirement That Turned Deadly

mechanic working on the inside of a car

For three decades, Al Bennet worked as an auto mechanic at a variety of dealerships. Day after day, week after week, and year after year, he worked underneath multiple car models. His job was to replace and repair brakes, gaskets, clutches and other parts.

While each component serves a vastly different purpose, they all had one thing in common: Asbestos contamination.

A lengthy tenure in the same profession should lead to a retirement where mechanics can enjoy their golden years. For Al Bennet, he is spending the final phase of his life suffering from malignant pleural mesothelioma, a type of fatal cancer where a cure remains elusive.

Tragically, he received the mesothelioma diagnosis shortly after ending his career.

The Bennets – Al and his wife, Pam – filed suit against Ford Motor Company. Trial testimony in the St. Louis courtroom revealed that the automotive giant favored a healthy bottom line at the expense of their employee’s health. Evidence showed that they were aware of the risks of asbestos exposure but did not bother to take any steps to ensure a safe work environment.

After deliberations, the jury returned with an $8.433 million verdict for the Bennets that included:

  • $5,725,000 in actual damages to Al Bennet
  • $2 million in punitive damages
  • $708,000 in actual damages to his spouse for damages she suffered due to her husband’s illness

Sadly, the former mechanic was not present due to continuing health issues.

The multi-million dollar decision is one of many messages that companies in various industries continue to receive, particularly those who have looked the other way in exposing their employees to asbestos. Whether these corporate giants ever truly listen to that message remains unknown.