In Dallas, Texas, a jury awarded $8.8 million to the family of a man who died from mesothelioma after suffering asbestos exposure during the 38 years he worked as a helicopter engineer.
A local NBC affiliate reports that Billy Dickson worked as a helicopter engineer for Texas-based Bell Helicopter Textron, Inc. for 38 years—long enough to have tested parts for helicopters flown during the Vietnam War. His career-long loyalty was allegedly awarded with massive amounts of asbestos exposure, which led to his diagnosis with mesothelioma and death in 2013 at the age of 74.
While working at Bell Helicopter, it is believed that Mr. Dickson “was often exposed to asbestos in amounts 200 times greater than is considered permissible by government safety standards.” Despite what Mr. Dickson’s family’s attorneys described as “an ungodly amount of asbestos exposure,” the company did not have a respiratory protection policy in place at any point during his employment there.
Under federal asbestos exposure regulations, it is necessary for employers to provide adequate warning of the risk of asbestos exposure to any employees. It is also mandatory that they provide protection against the exposure as well as medical monitoring for all workers believed to have been exposed.
Many of the components with which Mr. Dickson worked were made from asbestos, which is valued for its ability to resist high temperatures and corrosion. In fact, his widow said that he had told her he was regularly surrounded by clouds of asbestos dust at work.
According to attorneys for the Dickson family, Bell Helicopter was alerted to the fact that employees were being exposed to asbestos as early as 1955—years before Billy Dickson began to work there. Nevertheless, the company did not instate asbestos exposure protections until the mid-1970s, and even those measures were sub-standard and not in full compliance with federal regulations.
Mr. Dickson’s family said that he was devastated when he learned that the employer he was so dedicated to had allowed his exposure to asbestos for so many years. Their attorney told the jury, “Mr. Dickson was passionate about many things, including his grandchildren, the Texas Rangers, and his job. He was the kind of worker who would do anything for his company. For Bell to have a total lack of regard for asbestos danger was absolutely heartbreaking to him.”
In this asbestos exposure lawsuit, the Dallas County jury deliberated for only about five hours before finding that there was “clear and convincing evidence” that Bell Helicopter had been “grossly negligent” in the matter of Mr. Dickson’s asbestos exposure. His widow and family were awarded $8.8 million, and though this may appear to be a high figure, it in no way compensates them for the betrayal of Mr. Dickson’s loyalty and their loss of a beloved husband, father, and grandfather.
If you believe that a company wrongfully exposed you or your loved one to asbestos and that this exposure led to mesothelioma or another condition, you may be owed substantial compensation. For more information on how an experienced attorney can help you hold them accountable, please contact us for a free asbestos lawsuit consultation.