$3.9M Jury Verdict: Steamship owners held accountable for death of U.S. Merchant Marine

Just two weeks prior to Mesothelioma Awareness Day, Motley Rice LLC, along with the Jaques Admiralty Law Firm, P.C., of Detroit, Mich., is proud to announce a $3.9 million plaintiffs' jury verdict for the family of deceased Merchant Marine, William LaParl of Michigan, who lost his life to mesothelioma.

On Friday, Sept. 7, 2012, an eight-member jury found defendants Oglebay Norton Company, Columbia Transport Co., Interlake Steamship Company and Pringle Transit Company liable for "substantially contributing" to the death of William LaParl, who was 78 when he died in August 2006. Mr. LaParl retired from the Merchant Marines after 35 years of service and was diagnosed with mesothelioma in July 2006. 

The suit alleged, among other claims, that negligence on the part of the defendants caused LaParl's mesothelioma and ultimate death. This case was not part of MDL-875, In re Asbestos Products Liability Litigation, in which Motley Rice and the Jaques Admiralty Law Firm currently represent clients in approximately 3,500 pending cases involving Merchant Marines.

"As Meso Awareness Day, an initiative of the Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation, approaches on Sept. 26, we are again reminded of the dangers of asbestos exposure and the fatal impact it can have on victims such as William LaParl. This jury verdict sends a loud message to defendants in all asbestos cases that negligence will not be tolerated when it comes to worker health and safety," said John Herrick, a Motley Rice member and asbestos attorney who litigated the case.

Each year, an estimated 3,000 people in the United States and Canada are diagnosed with mesothelioma. These victims are often service members, workers, veterans and family members who were exposed to asbestos in hazardous occupational environments or through household exposure. To date, there is still no known cure for mesothelioma, and the average survival length following diagnosis is fewer than 12 months.

The case, Delores A. LaParl, Personal Representative of the Estate of William S. LaParl, deceased v. Columbia Trans. Co., et al, No. CV-08-667485, was tried before Judge Harry Hanna in the Court of Common Pleas in Cuyahoga County, Ohio, Civil Division.

Motley Rice supports the Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation as a "2012 Legal Partner for a Cure for Mesothelioma." The national non-profit organization is committed to ending the suffering caused by mesothelioma by funding mesothelioma research, providing education and support for patients and their families, and advocating for federal funding of mesothelioma research. The Meso Foundation expanded its initiative nationally and, in 2005, lobbied for the first national Mesothelioma Awareness Day, which has since spread as a successful advocacy movement across the country. As a result, Sept. 26, 2011, marked the first Meso Awareness Day. Motley Rice is proud to help the Meso Foundation mark the second Meso Awareness Day on Sept. 26, 2012.