In his 20s, David Hoff entered the world of work as a carpenter and drywall hanger. Now 65 years old, Hoff is suffering from mesothelioma – a form of cancer caused by exposure to asbestos – that he contracted by inhaling the toxic, asbestos-laden drywall dust all those years ago.
Recently, Hoff was awarded $8.75 million by a Portland-area jury. The jury found the manufacturer of a spackle product he used on the job responsible, as presented evidence showed the company was aware of the dangers of its products as early as the 1960s, 10 years before he worked with the products. The trial, which lasted nearly a month, resulted in the largest settlement in Oregon history for an asbestos exposure lawsuit in which an employee was exposed at a worksite, according to The Oregonian.
Hoff was awarded $750,000 for medical bills, as well as $4 million for pain and suffering. The jury also awarded Hoff’s wife, an additional $4 million for the past and future suffering she will experience after her husband passes.
Along with Kaiser Gypsum, the manufacturer of the spackling product, Union Carbide – the company that supplied the asbestos used in the product – as well as Georgia Pacific, which marketed a similar product were listed as defendants. According to Hoff’s attorney, both companies settled out of court for an undisclosed sum prior to the trial.
Mesothelioma Symptoms Lay Dormant for Years
Hoff, like most people who have been exposed to asbestos, did not experience symptoms for decades. On average, the symptoms typically lay dormant for 10 to 50 years, before mesothelioma becomes apparent. The fast-moving cancer has cuts short thousands of lives each year, and still thousands of new cases are being diagnosed each year.
For Hoff, the disease was caught early by chance. According to a report, Hoff had visited the doctor for a scan that revealed a buildup of fluids near his lungs, a common sign of lung cancer. He was diagnosed with the disease one year ago, and since that time, the 65-year-old has suffered greatly.
In October of last year, Hoff had surgery to remove one lung. And during the trial, he was unable to attend due to pain and an illness. Now, as a father, grandfather and retiree, doctors have told Hoff he has less than 2 years to live.
The Asbestos Exposure Risks Faced By Construction Professionals
Unfortunately, Hoff’s case is an all too common occurrence. Asbestos was widely used as a building material prior to the 1980s, and many young workers were exposed to asbestos fibers during this period.
Due to its common use in construction, people who worked in homebuilding, insulation, drywall, industrial manufacturing, shipbuilding, and the automotive industry are disproportionately affected by mesothelioma and asbestos related cancers. In fact, according to the National Institutes of Health, 11 million Americans were exposed between 1900 and the 1970s, many in specific industries.
These years of negligence by the asbestos industry affected millions. And today, more and more companies like Kaiser Gypsum are facing asbestos lawsuits for their role in exposing people to the cancer-causing fiber. Most plaintiffs in mesothelioma-related lawsuits are typically in their 60s or older, although younger people can be exposed when remodeling their homes, living in older homes built before 1978 or through secondary exposure.