Steel Workers Win $3.97 Million in Asbestos Case

The families of three former Bethlehem Steel workers were awarded $3.97 million in a Maryland asbestos case the plaintiffs’ attorney said was the first of hundreds of such cases.

According to an article in the Insurance Journal, the plaintiffs had sued General Electric in Baltimore Circuit Court in regards to asbestos-lined industrial brakes used in cranes and other equipment at the mill. Attorneys for the plaintiffs told the newspaper that juries are willing to give awards in industrial brake cases similar to those in automotive brake cases.

“The brake manufacturers and General Electric had taken a fairly strong position that they didn’t want to pay what people in Baltimore have received for asbestos-related injury claims, and I think this points out to them that the injuries from the brakes are just like the traditional brake cases and the values are similar,” Edmonds said.

The three steelworkers in question, Henry Copland, Dennis Ellison and Elihu Alford, died of mesothelioma, an asbestos-caused lung cancer, which their families believed was caused by the brakes on cranes and the mill motor used to transport steel. GE claims its brakes did not give off dangerous fibers and that the men’s cancer was caused by other materials at the Sparrows Point steel mill.

Copland’s family received $1.205 million, Ellison’s family received $760,000 and Alford’s family was awarded $1.96 million. Edmonds had asked for between $3.5 million and $5 million per family, based on government figures for computing the value of a human life.

Originally, 20 defendants were part of this suit, but the others were dismissed or settled prior to the trial.

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