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Company Liable For Cancer Damages

Jurors have found Owens-Corning Fiberglas Corp. liable for $3 million in damages for asbestos-related cancer suffered by four former shipyard workers.

King County Superior Court jurors found the Toledo, Ohio-based company was negligent in distributing asbestos without adequate warnings about health risks. The cancers were attributed to work with asbestos insulation - dating back to World War II - at the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard in Bremerton.

Half the damages, $1.5 million, were awarded Wednesday to terminally ill Raymond E. Olson and his wife, Betty.

The rest was divided among the widows of three other shipyard workers - pipe fitters and electricians who died of cancer - with $750,000 going to each of two of the surviving spouses and $30,000 awarded to a third.

Asbestos-related cancer “is a disease you would not wish upon your worst enemy,” said plaintiffs’ attorney Jeff Robinson.

He and co-counsels Mark Leemon and Bill Rutzick argued that Owens-Corning manufactured and supplied asbestos without proper warnings, and that the shipyard workers’ exposure directly led to injury or death.

Owens-Corning attorneys contended the company didn’t know the material was dangerous until well after the victims were exposed.

Asbestos is a fibrous mineral prized for its non-flammable, non-conducting and chemically resistant properties, but its use has been sharply curtailed due to health concerns. Exposure has been linked to mesothelioma, a cancer of the lung lining, and other respiratory illnesses.