Lung Cancer from Smoking and Asbestos Exposure

Four Lung Cancer Victims Awarded $1.8 Million For Injuries Caused By Asbestos Exposure

SAN FRANCISCO — April 15, 1997 — A San Francisco jury awarded $1,845,000 in compensatory damages to four retired workers suffering from lung cancers caused by the combined effects of cigarette smoke and asbestos exposure. Ralph Harding, J.C. Massey, Jesse Miles, and Lawrence Safly had sued Owens Corning and Asbestos Corp., Ltd., makers, suppliers, and installers of a variety of asbestos-containing products.

The jury trial began on January 13, 1997, before San Francisco Superior Court Judge Carlos Bea, and evidence was presented on how asbestos combines with cigarette smoke to cause lung cancer to create the highest cancer risks known. Each of the plaintiffs had long work histories:

  • Ralph Harding, sheet metal worker at shipyards, schools, and industrial sites from 1938–88;
  • Jesse Miles, pipefitter and ex-navy electrician at Mare Island Naval Shipyard from 1956–90;
  • J.C. Massey, laborer during WWII at Moore Dry Dock in Oakland, forklift driver at Del Monte cannery from 1959–88;
  • Lawrence Safly, a marine electrician at shipyards in Washington and Oregon, 1939–1979.

The jury found that Owens Corning’s and Asbestos Corp. Ltd’s (a Canadian mining company) asbestos products were defective and that it was negligent in their manufacture, supply, and sales. The jury further found that Owens Corning acted with malice, fraud, and oppression and awarded punitive damages (the amount to be determined at a later hearing).