Jury Awards $25 million in Testicular Mesothelioma Case Against Construction Companies

On Thursday, 14th March 2019, A California jury held two construction companies and oil refineries accountable for the employee’s testicular mesothelioma. The evidence presented revealed violation of internal safety standards by the company thus exposing all the workers to asbestos, a major cause of mesothelioma occurrence.

The company tried to pursue the case contesting this scientific fact, but eventually, the jury rejected their viewpoint and awarded $25 million to the employee and his wife as compensation for their damage.

Accusations Filed Against the Builders For Risking the Lives of Workers

The lawsuit was filed by a Californian couple, Houshang and his wife Soraya Sebastian pressing the charges of negligence at the workplace against Middle East Flour, Flour Enterprise Inc., National Iranian Oil Company and other companies where Houshang worked after being diagnosed with the testicular mesothelioma.

Houshang worked for a number of different oil refineries between the period of 1959 to 1979. These refineries were constructed by Flour and it’s subsidiary companies. During the hearing of the case, several pieces of evidence were provided showing the violation of internal safety standards at the workplace in order to gear up the process completion of these projects.

In the hassle of projects completion, infringement of safety law was done, risking exposure of devastatingly dangerous asbestos fibers to Sebastian.

Sebastian was not the only worker there who had to face the crucial circumstances, as one Sebastian family member shared the information saying that the case is not only about Sebastian, it “represents the latest in a long line of Iranian Refinery workers fallen victim to Fluor’s irresponsible conduct overseas.”

Detailed Judgment of the Case

The diagnosis of testicular mesothelioma caused terrible suffering to the Sabastian and family. In compensation to their long distress, and agony; and evident negligence of safety protocol by the accused company, the jury awarded $14 million to Sebastian for the pain he had to go through in the past, and the inevitable suffering of the future. And the jury awarded $11 million to Soraya Sebastian to reimburse some pain she had to go through.

The jury did not account him responsible for the development of mesothelioma at all. And 20% liability of the damage was assigned to the Iranian Oil Refinery and Flour Enterprise Inc was assigned the remaining liability.

Intense Exposure of Asbestos in Oil Refineries

Working in oil refineries is like working amidst danger all the time, as the chances of raw material catching up fire and explosions are very high. Apart from these obvious dangers, the existence of asbestos act as a silent killer in the oil refineries.

With the consistent risk of extreme heat and fire explosion, asbestos is used as an insulating material for fireproofing several construction materials and ironically in the tools as well that are particularly designed to protect the workers from fire.

There has been extensive use of asbestos in the previous years, but it is still being used especially in the oil refineries, putting the workers at the consistent high risk of developing asbestos-related diseases, especially mesothelioma.

An estimated number of deaths caused by the exposure of asbestos per year is around 255,000 according to recent records published in May 2018. Among these, about 233,000 deaths occur due to consistent inhalation of asbestos at workplaces.

Rare Type of Malignant Mesothelioma

Sebastian has been diagnosed with testicular mesothelioma which is the rarest type of mesothelioma. Of all mesothelioma cases diagnosed, less than 5% represent testicular mesothelioma.

Due to the rarity of this cancer, researchers are unclear about its actual causes, symptoms, and treatments. There is no proper elucidation of this cancer’s mechanism of development but asbestos exposure is proved to be a significant risk factor. As studies have revealed that exposure of asbestos notably elevates the risk of malignant mesothelioma.

Testicular mesothelioma is also called as the mesothelioma cancer of the tunica vaginails testis. This cancer begins with the growth of cancerous cells in the thin layer of the tissues surrounding the tests, called mesothelium. Still, the chances of its early diagnosis are higher than any other type of cancer. Better prognosis and early detection of testicular mesothelioma (before the metastasis of cancerous cells) promise early treatment and high survival rate.

Similar Lawsuit Filed Recently

The exposure of asbestos is not only associated with factory workers, rather it has been found in daily used products as well such as baby powders and crayons.

One such case was handled on 13th March 2019, in which $29 million was awarded by a California jury to the mother who said that her baby is suffering from mesothelioma after the unexpected exposure of asbestos present in the Johnson & Johnson’s talcum-powder-based products.
In response to this verdict, the representative of the company issued the statement,

“We respect the legal process and reiterate that jury verdicts are not medical, scientific or regulatory conclusions about a product,”

Nonetheless, several studies have shown contamination of talcum powders with asbestos.
Well, this is not the only case filed this year, as there are several other trials against J&J talc are coming in the future.

Similar to Sebastian case, there have been several lawsuits filed against the companies putting their employee’s health at the risk of developing mesothelioma in response to excessive exposure of carcinogenic asbestos. Strong legal handling is required for rightful judgments.

As in November 2018 jury awarded $30.2 million to a 65 years old man, diagnosed with mesothelioma due to exposure of asbestos while working as a construction supervisor.

Exposure of asbestos fibers put your health at risk at many levels, and the development of mesothelioma is the terrible one among them. And the companies exposing their employees knowingly/ unknowingly to asbestos, and risking their lives fight hard to not get caught in the act.

But it is highly advisable to seek professional help from a good law firm if you have been diagnosed with asbestos-related disease/ mesothelioma. And seek justice and rightful compensation from the jury.

Matthew Davis


Matthew Davis has studied journalism at the University of Colorado and has covered civil litigation for a variety of publications. He joined Mesowatch in 2016 and covers asbestos litigation developments in the U.S., as well as newsworthy asbestos cases.