Jury awards $32 million In secondhand asbestos exposure case

A gavel and a justice scale

The dangers of secondary exposure to asbestos are well known, and a recent decision by a South Carolina jury reaffirms that with an exclamation point. The family of a woman who died from mesothelioma was awarded $32 million in a lawsuit filed against Chicago-based Kraft Heinz and South Carolina-based Metal Masters Inc.

The woman’s family claimed that she acquired this rare form of cancer after decades of exposure to asbestos fibers brought home on the clothes of her husband and other relatives. Like other victims of secondary asbestos exposure, she inhaled those fibers that unknowingly wound up in many areas of the family home.

Husband worked at plant containing asbestos

Kathy Lynn Weist, 62, died in July 2020. The verdict in the case occurred on Sept. 27.

Weist’s uncle, father and husband all reportedly worked in facilities that contained asbestos. Specifically, her husband Robert worked at the Louis Rich Co. turkey processing plant in Newberry, South Carolina, in the 1980s. Kraft Heinz owned the facility and Metal Masters provided the asbestos-containing materials present at the processing plant.

As part of the verdict, Kraft Heinz and Metal Masters each must pay $11 million in compensatory damages. In addition, Kraft Heinz must pay another $10 million in punitive damages.

Offending companies must be held responsible

Too many families throughout the country and the world continue to face such challenges stemming from asbestos exposure. Many members of these families unknowingly faced exposure to asbestos, putting their lives in danger as well as those of their loved ones. Secondary exposure to asbestos happens, too, and the companies that used asbestos-containing products are liable and should suffer the consequences for their actions and inactions.

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