The family of a man who died from an asbestos-related cancer was awarded $30.3 million from a New Jersey jury, their lawyer said Wednesday.
The award is believed to be the largest in New Jersey for mesothelioma, an aggressive lung cancer, said the lawyer, Moshe Maimon.
The disease killed 50-year-old Mark Buttitta in 2002, although he had only handled auto parts containing asbestos while working summers at giant GM warehouses in New Jersey, Maimon said.
However, Buttitta’s father worked there, and his brother also spent summers at the warehouse, the lawyer said.
The three men wore the same work clothes for several days “bringing home cancer-causing fibers every day from work, unknowingly letting the microscopic fibers fragments waft throughout their home and settle,” said Maimon, who specializes in asbestos cases.
“Worse yet, as a young boy Mark would sit on his dad’s lap – or next to him on the sofa – every night to watch TV, and was innocently exposed to asbestos,” he said.
The six-person Bergen County jury on Tuesday found against Asbestos Corp. Ltd. of Canada, which provided material for GM brakes, and BorgWarner Inc. of Michigan, which made clutches. The verdict came after four hours of deliberations following several weeks of testimony, Maimon said.
Both companies are expected to appeal, he said.
BorgWarner spokeswoman Mary Brevard confirmed the company planned to appeal. “We don’t believe the evidence supports the verdict,” she said.
Efforts to reach Asbestos Corp. representatives and lawyers were unsuccessful.
Buttitta, an advertising executive who lived in Glen Ridge, grew up in Bloomfield, where the warehouse was located before it moved to Englewood. If upheld, the verdict would benefit his widow and three daughters.
No illness has been reported by his father, Frank Buttitta Sr., a lifelong GM worker, or brother, Frank Buttitta Jr., said Maimon, of Levy Phillips & Konigsberg.
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