The conclusion of a Cleveland, Ohio mesothelioma trial likely broke precedent for four reasons: the size of the overall award, the size of mesothelioma compensation for family members, the victim’s second-hand exposure and his relatively young age of 40.
After deliberating, the jury granted plaintiff John Panza $515,000 in economic damages as well as $12 million in non-economic damages for pain and suffering. The jury also granted his wife, Jane, $15 million as a result of her loss of consortium claim.
John and Jane filed their lawsuit after John Panza was diagnosed with mesothelioma in 2012. Aggressive treatments were needed to save his life, including five surgeries and the complete removal of his right lung.
Panza’s claim stated that his indirect exposure to asbestos fibers was the result of his father, John Sr., bringing home work clothes from his job at the Eaton Airflex brake company.
Eaton Airflex manufactured a variety of brake products, many of which contained asbestos brake pads manufactured by National Friction Products. Under Ohio law, Eaton Airflex is immune to prosecution for asbestos-related disease, so the only remaining defendant in the trial was the Kelsey-Hayes Co., successor to National Friction Products.
An Uncommonly Tragic Story
John Panza’s story is particularly tragic because of his relatively young age and the surrounding circumstances. His father, John Panza Sr. dedicated 31 years of his life working at Eaton Airflex, even once serving as the company union’s president.
When John Sr. would arrive home, he would often discard his work clothes, which were handled on a frequent basis by John Jr, who even washed the clothes on many occasions, leading to a consistent vector of exposure.
John Panza Sr. died of lung cancer in 1994 at only 52 years old. John Panza Jr. survived his father, and ended up marrying his high school sweetheart after the two attended the same college. They even went on to attend a Master’s program together. Now, John Panza Jr. works as an English teacher at Cuyahoga Community College in Ohio. He and Jane have a daughter who was six years old at the time of the 2013 trial.
A $27M Total Award Including the $15M in Mesothelioma Compensation for Family Members
The fact that Jane Panza received a larger award than her husband may surprise some, but the jury likely determined that she would endure the majority of emotional and personal suffering following her husband’s passing. Her loss of consortium claim stemmed from John’s inability to conduct a normal, loving familial relationship.
His lung removal would have severely weakened his energy levels, and his constant pain likely made bonding a difficult experience. Most devastating of all, Jane will be left to raise her daughter all by herself.
Factors like these were likely a significant motivator in the jury’s $27 million award — an unprecedented amount for mesothelioma compensation in the state of Ohio.
Family members of victims who have been exposed to asbestos can similarly claim their own emotional distress, loss of income and other important factors in order to claim mesothelioma compensation for family members.
If someone in your immediate family, such as a spouse or parent, has been diagnosed with mesothelioma, or has passed away following a mesothelioma diagnosis, act quickly to ensure your greatest chance of receiving the compensation you rightfully deserve.