$3.6 million award in world’s first cruise ship asbestos case


MIAMI, FL – Miami-based admiralty and maritime law firm, Lipcon, Margulies, Alsina & Winkleman, P.A., has obtained a record $3.6 million award in favor of a deceased Carnival Cruise Line crew member who suffered from a fatal occupational disease, stemming from prolonged asbestos exposure throughout his employment. The case represents a landmark decision for the firm, as it is the first cruise ship asbestos case to go to trial in the history of the cruise industry.

The firm filed a lawsuit against Carnival Cruise Line in Miami on behalf of the deceased crew member’s Estate. The Plaintiff, an Italian shipboard electrician, worked aboard several Carnival Cruise Line steamships from 1985 through 2000 and was diagnosed with lung cancer in 2001, a result of prolonged asbestos exposure.

Asbestos is a naturally-occurring mineral that has long been used in both home and commercial construction because of its versatility, strength, durability, and insulation properties. While intact, asbestos generally poses little threat to those exposed to it. However, if the mineral is disturbed, carcinogenic fibers are released into the air. Once inhaled, the fibers can result in serious and often fatal illnesses, such as lung cancer, mesothelioma, and asbestosis. These conditions can be difficult to identify because symptoms can take several years to develop, and once they do manifest, it is often too late for victims to obtain successful treatment.

Though asbestos has been banned for use in over 50 countries after its toxic properties were discovered, many nations and industrial companies continue to use the mineral in construction materials and manufactured goods – often illegally – putting those who are exposed at risk.

The majority of asbestos victims come in contact with the mineral at their place of employment, especially those who hold occupations within the maritime industry, like the victim in this case. An estimated 100,000 individuals in the United States alone have suffered fatal results following asbestos exposure within the ship building industry, where asbestos has been commonly on steamships used to isolate boilers, steam engines, pipes, and other ship materials.

The Plaintiff in the case worked aboard four different Carnival Cruise Line steamships, which one of the cruise line’s former chief engineer’s claims had asbestos present in the engine rooms and machine spaces – areas where the Plaintiff performed occupational duties on a daily basis throughout his 15-year employment with Carnival. Shortly before and after the victim’s death, an occupational physician and a pathologist ruled that the Plaintiff’s cancer had been caused by asbestos exposure.

Lipcon’s maritime attorneys filed the lawsuit against Carnival for pre-death pain and suffering, as well as a loss of earnings and support to the victim’s family as a result of his occupationally-related lung cancer. After a 9-day trial and 3.5-hour jury deliberation, the firm won the case and obtained a net verdict in favor of the Plaintiff for $3.6 million.

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