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New York Jury Returns $7.7 Million Asbestos Verdict Against Bus Manufacturer Navistar

Dec 30, 2014

A jury in Syracuse, New York, returned a $7.7 million verdict in a wrongful death suit brought against bus manufacturer Navistar International Corp. by the widow of a school bus driver who died of mesothelioma after being exposed to asbestos in the school district’s garage.

The verdict was announced on December 19 and is the largest asbestos award ever in Syracuse, according to attorneys for the widow. The bus driver began working for the Fayetteville-Manlius School District in the 1950s, Law360 reports, and in the course of his work, he regularly spent time in the district garage. He was exposed to asbestos released into the air during repairs and maintenance on buses that had parts containing asbestos. He died from mesothelioma in 2012. This fatal lung disease is linked to asbestos exposure.

According to the American Lung Association says approximately 70 to 80 percent of mesothelioma cases are caused by occupational exposure, and the disease usually takes years to develop. Asbestos fibers build up in the lungs, causing scarring and inflammation, which can affect breathing and lead to asbestosis, lung cancer, and mesothelioma, according to the National Institutes of Health. Asbestos was widely used for much of the twentieth century as an insulator and fireproofing material. Asbestos was often mixed with other materials to add heat- and fire-resistant properties to building materials, machine and appliance parts, and fabrics. Workers in a number of industries and occupations were exposed to asbestos and many developed asbestos-related illnesses.

On December 4, another Syracuse jury returned a $400,000 verdict in an asbestos suit brought against commercial flooring manufacturer American Biltrite Inc. and other defendants. The jury found the companies each 3.57 percent liable for plaintiff John Colasanti's 25 percent liability for his cancer, and this reduced the amount of actual damages awarded, Law360 reports.

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