A tragic case out of New York recently ended in an $11 million verdict against Ford Motor Company after a former mechanic developed mesothelioma from inhaling asbestos particles over decades of working on cars and trucks. Though the massive verdict was an important victory for those injured by asbestos, it was hollow for the man’s family who were still mourning his death. Sadly, the man, 74-year-old Arthur Juni, succumbed to his illness less than two months before his trial against Ford concluded.
Juni’s case began back in 2012, after he was diagnosed with an especially deadly and fast-moving kind of lung cancer. Juni’s family said that the man noticed a steep decline in his health beginning in early 2012. Pained by a constant cough and chest pain, he went to his doctor for help. Not long after that first trip, Juni was diagnosed with malignant pleural mesothelioma.
This variety of mesothelioma is an especially aggressive form of cancer that starts off in the layer of tissue surrounding a person’s lungs. The disease spreads rapidly and Juni’s quality of life deteriorated fast, suffering from constant pain and difficulty breathing. He and his family sought legal advice, intent on recovering some of what they had lost.
Juni started work as an auto mechanic back in 1965, working primarily on Ford cars and trucks. Juni spent decades taking apart Ford brake pads and clutches as well as disassembling and replacing engine gaskets. Little did Juni realize that these auto parts contained asbestos and that every time he handled them he risked breathing in deadly asbestos particles which would one day be responsible for his death.
Asbestos is a toxic material that can cause mesothelioma and other dangerous health conditions in those who inhale it. Besides auto mechanics, railroad workers are another group that are likely to have been exposed to asbestos given the presence of the material in many train cars and mechanical parts.
In this case, Juni’s lawyers argued that Ford should be held financially responsible due to the company’s failure to warn mechanics like Juni that its auto parts contained asbestos and further, that asbestos could cause the kinds of serious health consequences that we know about today.
After watching recorded testimony from Juni, who died only weeks before he was scheduled to testify, and hearing from Juni’s wife, the jury returned a verdict in his favor. Juni was given more than $8 million for his pain and suffering and another $3 million was awarded to his wife for her loss of consortium due to her husband’s declining quality of life.
Here's a YouTube video where one of our attorneys discusses how much asbestos exposure it takes to lead to mesothelioma: