The article was published in the national magazine serving the legal profession, in the “Notable Case Outcomes from Coast to Coast” section, and it outlines a December case won by Bergman Draper Ladenburg.
Plaintiff Counsel was AAJ member Matthew P. Bergman, bringing forward the citation Hammett v. Columbia Steamship Co., No. 11-2-12255-7 SEA (Washington, King County Superior Court, December 15, 2011.)
The plaintiff, Roger Hammett, worked aboard the merchant vessel SS Seattle for 67 days in 1966. In that time, he sailed from Seattle, Washington, to Anchorage and Kodiak Island, Alaska and back.
During that trip, Hammett was exposed to asbestos fibers from pipe insulation that was being stripped from steam pipes on the ship. In that brief exposure, Hammett received enough exposure to develop mesothelioma.
Mesothelioma is an aggressive cancer that affects the lining of the lungs and abdomen; it is the most serious of asbestos-related diseases. It can be difficult for doctors to detect because symptoms can mimic other common ailments.
Some common-seeming symptoms might include chest pain, shortness of breath, chronic cough, effusions of the chest and abdomen, and the presence of blood in lung fluid. Prognosis for the disease is typically poor.
Hammett received his diagnosis of the disease 45 years after his exposure on board the SS Seattle. The passage of substantial periods of time between exposure and diagnosis is a common feature of this disease.
Hammett sued the Columbia Steamship Company under the Jones Act and general maritime law. His allegations were that the shipping company failed to warn him of the dangers of asbestos and provide him with adequate protective equipment.
Hammett also sued the Washington State Ferries, where he was a deckhand for 30 years after his work on the SS Seattle. He alleged similar claims, and settled with the WSF before trial for a confidential amount.
The Columbia Steamship Company argued that Hammett’s exposure was too brief to have caused his disease.
Despite the brief exposure time, the jury awarded Hammett 1.45 million dollars, allocating fault at 70 percent to the Columbia Steamship Company and 30 percent to Washington State Ferries.
Sadly, Roger Hammett passed away from mesothelioma less than a year after the jury’s award.
Allow Bergman Draper Ladenburg fight for you, or someone you love who has had life impacted by mesothelioma. Contact the best northwest mesothelioma firm to find out how you can achieve justice.