Our client, a Vashon Island man who was exposed to asbestos, has been awarded $1.45 million after a jury ruled that his former bosses were to blame for exposing him to asbestos.
It was 45 years ago that Roger Hammett worked as a messman aboard the SS Seattle.
During his 67-day stint on the ship, Hammett breathed in asbestos fibers from pipe insulation. More than 40 years later, that exposure led to him developing mesothelioma, a rare cancer in the lining of protective tissue around the lungs.
Three years ago, the 84-year-old first experienced bouts of what he thought was asthma. The issues got worse, and last year Hammett collapsed while working in his garden.
“I was out in my garden working and fell over, couldn’t breathe, and I crawled up on a pile of dirt and I pulled myself up,” he said.
After getting his grim diagnoses, Hammett was in pain and had trouble sleeping. Instead of staying quiet about his illness, Hammett decided he wanted justice.
He sued his former employers, and after a week-long trial that ended Thursday, he was awarded $1.45 million.
Hammett’s attorney, Matt Bergman, Founding Partner of Bergman Draper Oslund, said his client’s case was rare.
“This was the first case of such a short period of exposure that went to trial, at least in the Puget Sound area,” he said.
It’s a bittersweet victory for a man who was told he only has another year to live.
“I will say it’s a psychological disaster to know that you have something that can’t be operated on, there’s no cure and you are going to die someday,” said Hammett.
For now he’ll enjoy moments in his garden with his wife, Anita, knowing he won the biggest legal battle of his life.