A jury in Oregon has awarded $8.75 million to a man who was exposed to asbestos in the 1970s. Now 65 years old, he has developed incurable cancer. David Hoff, the man in question, was a construction worker who developed mesothelioma. This was as a result of sanding down wallboard products that contained asbestos. Sanding the product led to asbestos dust becoming airborne, which in turn led to the development of mesothelioma.

“Asbestos-cement flat sheets & wallboard used for interior sheathing (refrigerator rooms), partitions, instrument mounting boards, tank liners, blackout or bombproof board, exterior sheathing for half-timbered home designs, lab table tops, cabinets.”

Hoff Has 18 Months to Live

Mesothelioma is an incurable form of cancer with a very poor prognosis. Hoff has been given another 18 months to live, which is longer than the average prognosis, and believed to be because the condition was caught relatively early, and due to advances in medical technology and knowledge. However, his overall health, as expected with mesothelioma is rapidly declining.

“The general prognosis for someone diagnosed with pleural mesothelioma is often unfavorable. However, making informed decisions about treatment, lifestyle changes and overall health can improve survival and quality of life. People diagnosed with this type of asbestos-related cancer can improve their chances of survival. Many have lived well past their life expectancy by electing treatment and improving their overall health. That could include lifestyle changes, and following the advice of knowledgeable specialists and experts.”

Lawsuit Against Kaiser Gypsum

David Hoff and his wife sued Kaiser Gypsum, the manufacturer of the wallboard product that led to his asbestos exposure. The company ceased manufacturing the product in 1975 but mesothelioma and other asbestos-related illnesses have a very long latency period. What swayed the jury more than anything, however, was the fact that, while Kaiser Gypsum had stopped manufacturing the product in 1975, they knew that their product was dangerous since 1965. They have faced numerous lawsuits as a result.

“The public, for the most part, remained unaware of the health risks associated with asbestos until the mid-1970s, but some say executives at Kaiser Gypsum knew the dangers much earlier. One lawsuit against the company alleged that Kaiser Gypsum knew of the risks at least by 1965, and possible as early as the company’s founding in 1952.”

Support for Hoff and Wife from the Mesothelioma Center

Hoff and his wife were supported in their lawsuit by the Mesothelioma Center. They have conducted numerous pieces of research into asbestos-related illnesses and aim to combat the works of asbestos product manufacturers, who have pooled resources in order to sponsor research that favors their particular side.

“The MesotheliomaCenter is dedicated to providing those who suffer from the asbestos-related cancer malignant mesothelioma—also known as asbestos cancer—or from asbestos-related lung cancer, or who know someone who does, with the most up to date information and support. Our staff diligently seeks new information and we are available 24 hours a day to help you find answers for your individual situation.”

The Mesothelioma Center has also shown that between 2% and 10% of those who have had asbestos exposure will develop mesothelioma. They concern themselves with this mainly due to the fact that the disease is wholly preventable, meaning people have been put at unnecessary risk for generations. The cancer has a very long latency period, which means that, once people get sick, they are often elderly and retired, on a low income, leaving them vulnerable to losing litigation against the giant manufacturers and companies that they have to take on. While asbestos litigation more and more often goes in favor of those who have developed the disease, a lot of work continues to be done to take on the manufacturers who sponsor the Science Advisory Board, the only institution that sometimes determines that asbestos exposure poses little to no risk.

“The Science Advisory Board offers access to an exclusive community of science and medical experts. Share, network, and collaborate with peers. Ask and answer important research questions. Influence the development of the next generation of research, development, manufacturing, and medical technologies.”

Hoff’s case was unusual in as such that no settlement was reached, and the case actually went to trial. More and more manufacturers now settle out of court, often with a closed and private settlement. They do this in an attempt to avoid future litigation. Kaiser Gypsum, however, seemed confident that they would win the case. The jury thought otherwise, however, awarding Mr. Hoff $750,000 to cover his medical expenses, and $4 million for his pain and suffering. Additionally, they awarded his wife, Patricia Hoff, $4 for her pain and suffering and loss of consortium.

It is not known whether this case will have set a precedent for future litigation against Kaiser Gypsum. It is now accepted by the court that they did in fact know about the dangers of their product since 1965. This could, therefore, lead to more litigation by other asbestos illness sufferers.