Ameron International Corporation failed to notify employees that they were being exposed to dangerous levels of crocidolite asbestos fibers or provide protective gear
PORTLAND, Ore. – MAY 25, 2022 – Bergman Oslund Udo Little (BOUL) announced that the firm has secured a $30 million Portland, Ore. jury verdict in the wrongful death of a long-time Oregon resident who was diagnosed with mesothelioma after being exposed to crocidolite asbestos fibers while working for Ameron International Corporation. The trial took place in Multnomah County Circuit Court with Judge Eric L. Dahlin presiding.
“We are pleased with the jury’s decision to hold Ameron International accountable for our client’s death for failing to warn him that he was being exposed to hazardous crocidolite asbestos fibers in the workplace,” said Vanessa J. Firnhaber Oslund, a partner at BOUL who litigated the case along with attorney Brendan E. Little. “While we know that no jury award can alleviate the family’s pain, they can take solace in the fact that Ameron is being held responsible.”
The client, who died January of 2021 at the age of 67, was exposed to crocidolite asbestos fibers while working as a general laborer and sandblaster at Ameron’s Bondstrand factory in Brea, Calif. for four months in 1974. During this time, Ameron failed to notify the workers who were exposed to high levels of asbestos while working in Ameron’s Bondstrand pipe factory. In fact, multiple workers who have testified about their time at Ameron said they believed they were working with fiberglass only and were unaware of the hazards associated with asbestos.
The evidence introduced at trial showed that Ameron was a notorious user and seller of crocidolite asbestos that was used to line its Bondstrand brand fiberglass pipe and pipe fittings. Even after major asbestos suppliers began abandoning the crocidolite asbestos business in the early 1970s due to health concerns, Ameron continued to buy, sell, and manufacture products that contained this potent carcinogen.
Worse, all of the asbestos exposure at Ameron occurred after the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) promulgated its 1972 asbestos regulations, which mandated work practices and warnings to protect workers from mesothelioma and other asbestos diseases. Ameron had actual knowledge that the asbestos levels in its Bondstrand factory were many times in excess of OSHA standards and that exposures even below the OSHA limits were shown to cause mesothelioma, a terminal cancer associated with asbestos exposure. Ameron was so informed because it hired an industrial hygiene consultant in 1972 that took air samples in the Bondstrand factory and who later criticized the company for failing to follow his recommendations, instead using the consultant to “intercede” with government inspectors from OHSA and National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.
Most of the Ameron employees who developed mesothelioma were Mexican immigrants, many of whom did not speak English. Ameron never warned these vulnerable workers that they were being exposed to a known carcinogen at astronomical levels, let alone took measures to protect them from this obvious hazard, such as switching to a less hazardous substance or providing respiratory protection.
“Mesothelioma is an extremely rare disease with a background disease incidence in the general population of one in a million. Yet among the relatively small population of less than 400 employees who worked at Ameron, we are aware of at least six cases of mesothelioma. In epidemiologic terms, this is a veritable epidemic,” Oslund noted. “Ameron treated these workers as if they were disposable, but the jury vehemently disagreed with Ameron’s devaluation of human life.”
About Bergman Oslund Udo Little
Bergman Oslund Udo Little has represented Pacific Northwest asbestos victims for 25 years. BOUL is the largest law firm representing Pacific Northwest asbestos plaintiffs and has taken more cases to trial and prosecuted more successful appeals than any firm in the region. Bergman Oslund Udo Little has won more multi-million-dollar jury verdicts in asbestos cases than any other law firm in Oregon and Washington.