Miami Herald: Florida man awarded $14 million in asbestos case

May 21, 2010

The Miami Herald published the following on May 21, 2010:

Jurors in Miami found Union Carbide negligent for selling asbestos fibers that caused William Aubin’s cancer.


A Miami-Dade jury has awarded a Sarasota man more than $14 million after deciding that the asbestos he inhaled in the 1970s caused his deadly abdominal cancer.

Jurors found that chemical giant Union Carbide was negligent for selling asbestos fibers to other companies, which had used the fibers to make joint compounds used by construction companies — such as the one William Aubin’s family owned.

According to Aubin, his parents, who founded Aubin Construction on Key Biscayne in the 1960s, used the asbestos-laden compounds. Aubin, now 59 and a retired firefighter, worked in his parents’ company after they moved it to Sarasota.

That’s how his client was exposed to asbestos and eventually developed peritoneal mesothelioma, said Juan Bauta, who argued the case for the Ferraro Law Firm.

“The products weren’t labeled as containing asbestos,” Bauta said.

Jurors also found that four of the compound manufacturers, including Georgia-Pacific, share some of the responsibility for causing Aubin’s illness.

Peritoneal mesothelioma is a rare — and usually fatal — cancer that attacks the lining of the abdominal cavity and organs. Aubin’s lawyers argued that he is “permanently impaired and will ultimately and unfortunately die from mesothelioma.”

In April 2008, Miami-Dade jurors awarded more than $24 million to a Weston doctor who contracted the same illness.

It was the largest compensatory jury verdict involving a single defendant in a Florida asbestos case.

Bauta said he expects Union Carbide to appeal the verdict.

Michael Terry, a Texas-based attorney who represented the company, could not be reached for comment.