Mesothelioma is a rare but deadly cancer of the thin membranes that line the chest and abdomen caused by the inhalation of asbestos. This tragic disease primarily affects workers such as mechanics, construction workers and other laborers, who suffer exposure.
Increasingly, the families of patients who suffer from this disease are winning substantial financial awards in court.
Following the death of her husband Darrell Jennings, Sharon Jennings was recently awarded over $10 million by a jury against the company that exposed him to the asbestos that caused his deadly cancer.
Jack Corrigan, a trial lawyer for Kelley & Ferraro who helped with Jennings’ cases, joined the America’s Work Force Union Podcast to discuss details of the case and the outcome of the successful verdict.
Mesothelioma: a rare and deadly form of asbestos cancer
A new trial lawyer for Kelley & Ferraro, Corrigan began working on the case as a law clerk well before the pandemic. The case was delayed for a year by COVID-19, giving lawyers at the firm additional time to prepare for trial in order to refine and tweak their arguments.
Darrell Jennings was exposed to asbestos while repairing Bendix brakes as part of a side mechanic business he performed for friends and family. Although Mr. Jennings had long since retired, he was not diagnosed with mesothelioma until he was in his late 70s. He tragically survived only 80 days after his diagnosis.
The lawyers were able to prove the asbestos exposure was a substantial factor in the cancer that caused his death.
Brave family testimony propelled the case
Though it took over a year for the case to go to trial due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the trial itself lasted only two and a half weeks. Both sides got very passionate about presenting their stances, and it was exciting to watch, Corrigan said.
Corrigan commended Sharon Jennings for her testimony, describing her as a caring grandmother who even went out of her way to ensure lawyers were eating and sleeping properly. The process was very difficult for her, as she had to relive many personal and grisly details of her husband’s death.
More mesothelioma asbestos cases on the horizon
After deliberating for just under a full day, the jury delivered their verdict and recommended a substantial financial award. The judge awarded $10,657,189.
Kelley & Ferraro, a sponsor of the AWF podcast, is preparing for several similar cases involving mesothelioma that are set to go to trial this year. While the courts have a substantial backlog after not hearing cases for over a year, Corrigan expects at least two cases to go to trial by year’s end.