A family from Florence in Alabama has resolved its claim for mesothelioma cancer due to secondary exposure and been awarded $3.5 million compensation.
For 22 years, Barbara Bobo washed work clothes brought home by her husband, James, who was employed at the Browns Ferry Nuclear Plant and who regularly did clean-up work after asbestos insulation was installed at the plant.
James died of lung cancer due to exposure to asbestos fibers in 1997. In 2011, Barbara was diagnosed with mesothelioma cancer and had surgery to remove the lining of her lung. She also underwent chemotherapy treatment until her death in 2013.
As studies have shown that many workers unknowingly carried home asbestos fibers on their clothes, Barbara´s children made a claim for mesothelioma cancer due to secondary exposure against the owners of the Brown Ferry Nuclear Plant – the Tennessee Valley Authority.
The Tennessee Valley Authority denied its liability for Barbara´s death, but at the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Alabama, Judge Lynwood Smith found in favor of the family and awarded Barbara´s children $3,537,000 compensation in settlement of the claim for mesothelioma cancer due to secondary exposure.
In his summing up, Judge Smith ruled that the Browns ferry Plant had violated worker safety regulations established by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). He said that “relatively simple, low-cost methods which if implemented … may have prevented Barbara Bobo’s contraction of mesothelioma.”
Secondary exposure to asbestos occurs when the person is not exposed to asbestos directly through his or her own work, but when he or she is exposed to asbestos dust and fibers from another source – such as in the case of Barbara Bobo. As with primary exposure to asbestos, symptoms of secondary exposure to asbestos can take decades to manifest – making it difficult to pinpoint where initial asbestos exposure occurred and establish liability in a claim for mesothelioma cancer due to secondary exposure.