The family of an Ohio mechanic who died at age 51 of malignant mesothelioma, a fatal cancer of the lining of lungs caused by prolonged exposure to asbestos-containing products, was recently awarded $4.5 million.
Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Judge Harry A. Hanna handed down the verdict, one of the largest in an asbestos case in Ohio, late last week against Nationwide Brake and Alignment Centers, a small chain of tire and brake repair outlets in Northeast Ohio.
Until the mid-1970s -- and in some instances until the 1980s -- automobile brakes contained a substantial amount of asbestos.
Twelve asbestos manufacturers and distributors, including five of the world's largest auto manufacturers -- General Motors, Ford Motor Co., DaimlerChrysler, Toyota, and Nissan -- agreed to contribute to the settlement.
Nationwide Brake and Alignment Centers initially filed an answer to the lawsuit denying the allegations. The company, however, failed to appear for trial.
From 1964, to 1978, Dennis Marion, Bay Village, Ohio, worked as a mechanic for Marzec Motors, a used-car dealership in Cleveland.
Nationwide Brake and Alignment shared a building with Marzec Motors in the 1960s and 1970s.
According to the lawsuit, Marion consulted on a daily basis with Nationwide Brake mechanics and was exposed to asbestos dust from the brake work performed by Nationwide.
Marion was diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma in October 1997 and died in January 1999.
Judge Hanna entered a verdict of $3.96 million on the wrongful death claim against Nationwide. He then assessed Nationwide $1,000 per day for Marion's suffering.
Adding in medical expenses, the verdict was increased to $4.5 million.