The family of a Tyler man, who died after contracting mesothelioma after years of exposure working at the Kelly Springfield/Goodyear plant, was awarded $18.6 million by a Dallas County jury last week, and attorneys for the plaintiff said the amount was warranted.
Christopher J. Panatier, of the Dallas-based law firm Simon Greenstone Panatier and Bartlett, said Goodyear plainly ignored standards set in place in 1972 by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
"Carl Rogers worked at the plant for 30 years before being diagnosed with mesothelioma, a deadly cancer caused by exposure to asbestos fibers. Jurors found Goodyear grossly negligent for allowing Mr. Rogers' continued exposure to asbestos," he said.
Mr. Rogers worked as a tire builder at the Kelly-Springfield Tire Co. in Tyler, a Goodyear subsidiary. He worked with Goodyear machines that exposed him to asbestos on a constant basis. He was further exposed to asbestos-wrapped piping while maintenance work was happening at the plant. Mr. Rogers was diagnosed with mesothelioma in August 2008 and died in September 2009.
Panatier said the verdict, which was handed up in the Dallas County Court At Law 5, includes $2.7 million in non-economic damages, $900,000 in economic damages and $15 million in punitive damages.
"Mr. Rogers' family just wanted a jury to hear the story of their husband and father. He did nothing wrong and still died because his employer did not protect him," he said. "Goodyear plainly ignored OSHA standards to protect workers from asbestos disease and never dealt honestly with them."
Panatier said Goodyear admitted during the trial that the levels of asbestos were 10 to 100 times greater than the average person would breathe outside of the plant.
He said three other former workers at the plant have been diagnosed with mesothelioma.
"The mesothelioma rate is usually one case per million people, so to have four at one plant is about a 900 percent increase to those having the disease," he said.
Panatier said he believes there may been an appeal filed in the case, but that could take up to six months.