BUFFALO, N.Y. (Dec. 14, 2:10 p.m. ET) — A county jury in Buffalo has awarded $2 million in damages to a former plastics worker who contracted a rare form of cancer after being exposed to raw asbestos fibers supplied by a Canadian company in the 1960s and 1970s.
Gerald Failing, 66, of Niagara Falls, N.Y., worked for thermoset materials maker Durez Plastics in North Tonawanda, N.Y., from 1966 to 1978. The plant made phenolic molding compounds using asbestos fibers supplied by Hedman Resources Ltd. of North York, Ontario, according to a news release from Lipsitz & Ponterio LLC, the Buffalo law firm that represented Failing.
“Dumping and mixing raw asbestos fibers gives rise to a great deal of airborne asbestos contamination, which also created visible dust in Mr. Failing's work area,” the release said.
In December 2010, Failing was diagnosed with peritoneal mesothelioma, a rare form of cancer that affects the lining of the abdomen and is caused by exposure to asbestos, according to the release. After a two-week trial, the jury assigned full responsibility to Hedman, the release said, ruling that the firm's actions “were taken with reckless disregard for the safety of others.”
Attempts to contact Hedman at a phone number listed for the firm in North York were unsuccessful. Officials with Durez in Novi, Mich., also could not be reached. Durez now is owned by Sumitomo Bakelite North America Inc. of Manchester. Conn. That firm is a unit of Sumitomo Bakelite Co. Ltd. of Tokyo.