“Fighter:” Asbestos Removal Worker Loses Bout with Cancer; NY Jury Awards $35 Million – Weitz & Luxenberg
New York, NY, March 05, 2013 --(PR.com
)-- Mass tort and personal injury
litigation firm Weitz & Luxenberg, P.C. today announced a verdict in the case of Ivo John Peraica, an asbestos removal worker who died in December from cancer caused by asbestos
. The New York Supreme Court jury that heard Peraica’s case returned its verdict Friday, awarding $35 million to the Croatian-born worker.
Peraica, of Queens, worked for eight years for New York-area contractors removing asbestos insulation from boilers, pumps, and other equipment. He died from complications related to Mesothelioma, a cancer whose only known cause is exposure to toxic asbestos fibers.
Weitz & Luxenberg’s trial team of Jerry Kristal, Adam Cooper, and Danny R. Kraft, Jr. told the jury that Peraica’s disease was caused by years of inhaling the asbestos dust stirred up each time he stripped asbestos insulation from the equipment at his jobsites – equipment which, according to testimony, was devoid of any warnings about the dangers of asbestos.
The sole defendant at the time of the verdict – industrial products manufacturer Crane Co. – argued that other companies and even Peraica himself were responsible for his exposure to asbestos, but the jury ultimately heaped blame on the Stamford, Conn.-based company, saying it had acted with reckless disregard for consumers’ safety.
Peraica, a Local 12 Heat and Frost Insulators union member, worked removing asbestos for almost a decade: from the week he moved his family to New York from Croatia in 1978 until he stopped doing asbestos removal work in 1986. Peraica’s widow, Milica, survives him, as do three daughters, one of whom testified at trial to her father’s pain and suffering.
Peraica was unable to testify in person, but before he died on December 28, provided four days’ worth of deposition testimony that Weitz & Luxenberg’s trial team was able to read into evidence.
By the time Peraica’s trial was underway, he was too sick to take part in it. Kraft, a lawyer in Weitz & Luxenberg’s asbestos unit, told the jury Peraica was “a fighter” who would do anything it took to testify in his trial, but likely would be unable to as he quickly deteriorated under medical care.Mesothelioma
is an aggressive cancer that attacks the sac that lines the lungs and other internal organs. It is incurable.
Kristal, head of Weitz & Luxenberg’s Cherry Hill, NJ Office, addressed the jury at the outset of the trial, telling them they should see Peraica’s case as a narrative of corporate irresponsibility and take it upon themselves to hold companies to higher standards of safety. “Corporations in this country have leeway to put a wide variety of products into the marketplace, and sometimes those products are dangerous,” Kristal explained. “Juries have an important role in the system. When corporations harm innocent workers and consumers, it is the job of juries to assign blame and tell companies they can’t get away with cutting corners on safety. Lawsuits like these aren’t just about winning money, they’re about making reckless and greedy companies think twice about endangering workers.”
Cooper, a senior trial lawyer in Weitz & Luxenberg’s asbestos litigation group, said that while he was happy the Peraica family had achieved an excellent legal result, the result was tempered by the fact that Peraica’s mesothelioma could have been prevented. “Mesothelioma is impossible to cure, but it is easy to prevent,” said Cooper. “The disease can only be caused by breathing in asbestos fibers. If companies like Crane Co. simply placed warnings on their industrial equipment, tragedies like this would not need to happen.”
“This verdict is important because it shows we reached the jury,” Kraft said. “We were able to impress upon them how important it is to hold companies accountable for failing to protect workers like Mr. Peraica. Companies like Crane Co. made millions knowing that workers handling their products would come in contact with asbestos, but never provided warnings. What’s even more alarming is that Crane Co. admitted at trial to having knowledge about the dangers of asbestos that dates to the 1930s. Weitz & Luxenberg isn’t comfortable with that fact, and I don’t think the jury was either.”
Kraft said that the Peraica family, in addition to Peraica himself, was comprised of fighters. “The Peraicas are a hardworking, family-oriented group who fought for everything they have. I’m happy Weitz & Luxenberg was able to help them achieve this verdict, but no amount of money can truly compensate them for what they have lost. Throughout this trial, they waged their own fight, and I think that truly makes a difference.”
Peraica’s case began as a consolidated trial of seven plaintiffs against a number of large corporate defendants. By the time the jury began deliberations, the other plaintiffs and defendants had resolved their cases, leaving only Peraica and his claim against Crane Co.
The trial was held in New York State Supreme Court before Justice Martin Schulman.
About Weitz & Luxenberg
Founded in 1986 by attorneys Perry Weitz and Arthur Luxenberg, Weitz & Luxenberg, P.C., today ranks among the nation’s leading law firms. Weitz & Luxenberg’s numerous litigation areas include: mesothelioma, defective medicine and devices, environmental pollutants, accidents, personal injury, and medical malpractice. Victims of accidents are invited to rely on Weitz & Luxenberg’s more than 25 years of handling such cases – begin by contacting the firm’s Client Relations department at 1-800-476-6070 or at email@example.com and ask for a free legal consultation. More information: www.weitzlux.com