On October 28, 2016, the jury in New York County Supreme Court awarded plaintiff, George Cooney, $12.5 million dollars for his asbestos related lung cancer.
Cooney worked for Caterpillar Inc. from 1969-1978. He was employed as a mechanic who performed repairs on the drivetrains of forklifts which included work on engines, valves, clutches, brakes, and gaskets. All of these parts were alleged to be laden with asbestos.
Asbestos is manufactured in parts of machinery due to its heat resistance properties, and its strength and flexibility to be woven into small parts. Asbestos can even be woven into heat resistant clothing.
The presence of asbestos creates dangerous risk of bodily injury and death from inhalation of the small, thin, airborne fibers. The fibers can also be swallowed after contact with the mouth resulting in internal health problems.
Asbestos resides in the body for decades then attaches to healthy cells and destroys them resulting in terminal illnesses such as mesothelioma or lung cancer.
Cooney died after being diagnosed with lung cancer in September of 2014. The plaintiff team successfully proved Caterpillar knew about the presence of asbestos since the 1930’s and failed to warn of its presence until 1984.
After hearing weeks of expert testimony and witness accounts the jury handed down the $12.5 million dollar verdict in favor of Cooney. Cooney had been a cigarette smoker, however the jury found the asbestos exposure increased the risk of developing lung cancer.