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Avid Surfer And Former Drywaller Awarded $26.6 Million By Los Angeles Jury

San Pedro, CA, March 20, 2013—Asbestos cancer litigation law firmWorthington & Caron, P.C. today announced a verdict in the case of a 62 year-old former drywaller diagnosed with mesothelioma, a cancer caused by asbestos. The Los Angeles Superior Court jury that heard the case returned its verdict Tuesday, awarding $26.6 million to Mike and his wife.

Mike testified that he worked as a drywaller in northern Southern California from 1967, while he was still attending Madison High School, through 1993—with frequent breaks for extended surfing trips to Hawaii and Mexico. He worked at countless residential and commercial jobsites during the construction “boom” that occurred in north county in the 1970s, the same time that cancer-causing asbestos was used in many construction products including joint compound, fire-rated drywall, caulk, stucco, roofing mastic and asbestos cement pipe.

“With all the trades working on top of each other trying to finish one job and move on to the next, it was always dusty,” Mike recalled, “It wasn’t until I became a lead maintenance mechanic at UC San Diego and attended a class on job safety in 2003 that I learned that so many of the materials used on the jobs back then contained asbestos.”

The case (LASC case # BC486980) was filed on June 20, 2012 by Worthington & Caron and co-counsel Simon, Greenstone, Panatier & Bartlett. Over 30 defendants were named in the case. Settlements were reached with a number of defendants prior to trial. Stucco manufacturer, Highland Stucco and Lime Products, Inc., the sole remaining defendant at trial, argued that other companies and even Mike himself were responsible for his exposure to asbestos. But the jury ultimately assessed blame on Highland for its role in subjecting Mike and other members of the public to its dangerous products.

“I was surprised to learn at trial just how much asbestos was in stucco,” Mike stated, “even though I rarely worked hands-on with the stuff, I was exposed to dust when the bags were dumped into large mixers and when we had to scrape off areas of over-spray that came into the homes through windows and doors.”

Mike is grateful for the jury’s award and for the hard work of his legal team, but would gladly trade it for the return of his health. Prior to his diagnosis in May 2012, Mike enjoyed his job at UCSD and had no plans of retiring. He also continued to indulge his life-long passion for surfing, hitting the waves on the iconic surf breaks of north county in Southern California two or more times a week.

After receiving his diagnosis, Mike sought treatment with thoracic surgeon Dr. Robert Cameron, Director of the Comprehensive Mesothelioma Program at the UCLA Medical Center in Los Angeles. Mike underwent the lung-sparing pleurectomy/decortication surgery performed by Dr. Cameron in July 2012. Thereafter, he underwent six weeks of radiation under the direction of UCLA radiation oncologist Dr. Michael Selch. “I was one of the first patients to get radiation with UCLA’s new Tomo-Therapy equipment”, Mike said, “Dr. Cameron and his team are on the cutting edge when it comes to treating meso. There are world-renown medical centers in Southern California, but for mesothelioma, the experts are at UCLA."

Mike recognizes that asbestos companies like Highland have historically refused to support research into cures for mesothelioma, “they would rather pay attorneys to blame guys like me who were exposed to their products for causing our own illness!” Mike vows to support mesothelioma research conducted at the Pacific Meso Center under the direction Dr. Robert Cameron: “I’ve personally benefitted from Dr. Cameron’s research supported by patients before me affected by this disease. Now it’s my turn. With a little luck, I’ll be around long enough to benefit from the research they do with my support."

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