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Family Awarded $10 Million in Kansas City Courthouse Asbestos Lawsuit

November 30, 2011

A $10 million settlement was awarded to the family of a courthouse employee who died of a form of cancer that is caused by asbestos exposure.Money_settlement

A $10 million settlement was awarded to the family of a courthouse employee who died of a form of cancer that is caused by asbestos exposure; according to the lawsuit, the county and a contracting firm were liable for the improper handling of asbestos at the Jackson County Courthouse in Kansas City.

Nancy R. Lopez, an employee of the courthouse since 1975, died of mesothelioma at the age of 56. Mesothelioma is a rare and dangerous form of cancer that is caused when people inhale asbestos fibers that are in the air, over a long period of time.

Lopez and her attorney filed the lawsuit in March of 2010, claiming that the contracting firm U.S. Engineering did not follow the guidelines established by the Environmental Protection Agency and Occupational Safety and Health Administration when it completed demolition, maintenance, and renovation projects on the building in 1983 and 1984. As a result, the lawsuit alleges that asbestos particles were released into the air and continued to be present for several years.

Mesothelioma is associated with a long latency period and patients generally don’t exhibit symptoms of the disease until 15 to 20 years after their initial exposure. By then, the cancer has progressed to it later stages. Lopez was diagnosed with mesothelioma in April of 2009; she died of the disease in October of 2010.

Buchanan County Circuit Judge Patrick Robb approved the terms of Lopez’s settlement on November 18. Jackson County will pay $400,000 and U.S. Engineering will pay $10 million.

Lou Accurso, the plaintiff’s attorney stated that the settlement offers “some measure of justice to the family.”

The chief financial officer for U.S. Engineering maintained in a written statement that the company doesn’t think that their work caused Lopez’s condition.

“After consulting with our counsel and insurers, we settled this case to bring closure for both us and the Lopez family, to whom we express our sympathy,” said Bill Richards.

A Jackson County spokesman declined to comment on the case.

A separate class action suit was filed in March of 2010, on behalf of the courthouse’s employees, the employees’ families, and visitors to the courthouse. Like Lopez’s suit, the class action filing claims that asbestos fibers were released into the interior of the building during U.S. Engineering’s 1983 renovation project at 415 E. 12th St. The class action case is being presided over by a different judge and is still pending.

If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with mesothelioma, or another asbestos-related disease, contact an experienced mesothelioma attorney for legal assistance as soon as possible. A skilled attorney can help you seek justice against the person or party that is responsible for the asbestos exposure. You may be entitled for financial compensation for medical bills, loss of wages, and pain and suffering.

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