In February 2008 a Bergen County court awarded Buttitta $8 million for pain and suffering, $2 million for loss of consortium, more than $9 million for lost earnings, more than $2 million for loss of services, and $9 million for the loss of parental care and guidance to Mr. Buttitta’s three daughters ($3 million each).
The verdict will be paid by Asbestos Corporation Limited and Borg-Warner Corporation. Three other companies, including C.L. Zimmerman Co., Honeywell International and General Motors Corporation, settled before or during the trial on undisclosed terms.
Mr. Buttitta was initially exposed to asbestos as a child through secondhand exposure brought home by his father, who worked with asbestos brakes and clutches for General Motors. He was later directly exposed in the early 1970s when he worked summer and winter breaks throughout college at a General Motors warehouse handling auto parts.
Concerning causation, the appeals court agreed with Superior Court Judge Brian Martinotti, who stated the “frequency, regularity and proximity” test for asbestosis cases should be perceived differently for mesothelioma cases since malignant mesothelioma, unlike asbestosis, may develop from relatively low and infrequent asbestos exposure.
When defendants claimed some of the verdict was excessive, the appeals court deferred to Judge Martinotti’s “feel of the case” and denied the request to reduce the verdict, saying the award “may have been generous, as recognized by the judge, but it was based on the undisputed evidence that Mark was an active and engaged father, and would have been expected to provide significant intangible services to his children such as guidance, training and counseling.”
Additional information on mesothelioma may be found through the Mesothelioma Center.