George Cooney, who worked at a plant in the United States that serviced Caterpillar forklifts, contracted fatal lung cancer as a result of exposure on a daily basis to asbestos-containing parts while servicing brakes and clutches.
The work Mr Cooney had to do entailed activities such as –
• Sanding asbestos brake shoes;
• Using compressed air hoses to blow dust out of brake boxes and off brake surfaces;
• Working with asbestos-containing clutches;
• Grinding, sanding and scraping asbestos gaskets from metal services.
All generated large amounts of asbestos dust. He was unaware of the danger and as a result wore no respiratory protection. In September 2013 at age 66 Mr Cooney was diagnosed with lung cancer. He underwent chemotherapy and radiation treatment but died aged 67. He was retired at the time of his diagnosis.
Before his death he sued various manufacturers and suppliers of asbestos-containing products including Caterpillar Inc., which sold many of the parts he handled including rebranded asbestos-containing Bendix brakes.
Mr Cooney claimed that the Defendants negligently failed to warn of the known dangers of asbestos in their products.
When he passed away his estate was substituted as the Plaintiff in his case. His estate presented evidence that Caterpillar knew of the risks of asbestos and that they knew there was no safe level of exposure.
At the trial Caterpillar attempted to blame Cooney’s history of smoking for his disease. His estate countered that although lung cancer is a known risk of smoking, the risk increases sharply when a smoker is also exposed to asbestos.
The jury in the American case found that Caterpillar negligently failed to warn of its products’ asbestos dangers. The jury also found that Cooney’s lung cancer resulted from both his asbestos exposure and his smoking history. It allocated fault at 55% to Caterpillar and 45% to Cooney.
Many Irish workers have unknowingly been exposed to asbestos dust, which can result in them contracting mesothelioma. Moloney Solicitors are handling a number of asbestos related claims. Should you require assistance in relation to this area please feel free to contact our firm at firstname.lastname@example.org, Freefone 1800 200 249 or telephone 045 898000.