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Friday, June 26, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Families win millions in asbestos suit

From staff and wire reports

SEATTLE – More than 100 Northwest families have won a $30 million settlement in an asbestos lawsuit involving a subsidiary of Texas-based Halliburton Co.

The deal was part of a $4.3 billion global settlement encompassing Halliburton’s past, present and future asbestos liabilities, Matthew Bergman, a lawyer who represented the families, said Thursday.

Bergman was one of seven attorneys who served on a committee that negotiated the settlement, which included more than 150 law firms representing more than 200,000 injured workers nationwide.

Many were exposed to asbestos while serving on U.S. Navy vessels contaminated with asbestos. Others were exposed from shipyards, paper mills or industrial plants. Attorney David Frockt said some were exposed at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation.

Individual settlements are to be $265,000 for mesothelioma, $80,000 for lung cancer and $5,000 for asbestosis. Victims will receive about 94 percent of those amounts, Frockt said.

He said about 25 of the Washington victims are from central and Eastern Washington, including about 10 in Spokane.

Mesothelioma is a cancer of the lung linings caused almost exclusively by exposure to asbestos, while asbestosis is a much less serious irritation of the lungs.

Settlements for ordinary lung cancer are lower than for mesothelioma because other factors, notably smoking, often are contributing causes, Frockt said.

Dresser Industries, a subsidiary of Halliburton acquired when Vice President Dick Cheney was chairman of the Houston-based company, distributed asbestos products to shipyards, power plants and industrial facilities.

Plaintiffs alleged Dresser officials knew their products were harmful to workers in the 1930s but continued to distribute them through the mid-1970s.

“We needlessly lost hundreds of American workers to asbestos disease, because the companies manufacturing absestos products concealed the truth,” Bergman said.

Halliburton, which admitted no wrongdoing in the settlement, did not immediately return a call seeking comment Thursday afternoon.

Charisse Dahlke, 39, of Port Orchard, was one of the plaintiffs. Her husband, Dale, died three years ago. He was 54 and had spent 25 years working as an electrician in the Puget Sound naval shipyards.

“Dale worked hard to serve his country and support his family and died a painful death,” Dahlke said in a statement released by Bergman’s firm. “All of this could have been prevented had these companies told their workers what they knew.”

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Matt Bergman knows the pain and anger that patients with mesothelioma feel.