$5.6 Million Mesothelioma Verdict

Published on April 13th, 2022

George Bellas, and partner of Peter Wachowski, was a part of the legal team that recently obtained a $5.6 million verdict for Fred Riebel, a 56-year-old man who died due to preventable asbestos exposure as an insulating contractor. The verdict for this premises liability case was reached on December 14, 2021, after just 12 hours of deliberation.

Lawyer George Bellas (partner, Bellas & Wachowski) worked with attorneys James C. Pullos and Patrick F. Bradley (Clifford Law Offices) on the lawsuit for Mr. Riebel’s family. The defendants in the trial were BP Amoco and U.S. Steel.

Mesothelioma Lawsuit

The lawsuit brought against BP Amoco and United States Steel alleged that Mr. Riebel was negligently or unknowingly exposed to asbestos. Asbestos is a harmful substance that can cause mesothelioma due to prolonged exposure. Both defendants in question were aware of the dangers of asbestos exposure.

Mr. Riebel worked for over 30 years as a contractor at various industrial facilities and plants in northern Illinois and Indiana where he was regularly exposed to asbestos. The defendants failed to protect or even warn Mr. Riebel of the asbestos exposure at their facilities.

The attorneys representing Mr. Riebel started a premises liability lawsuit against BP Amoco and United States Steel. The premises liability suit showed that the defendants, as owners or overseers of the facilities Mr. Riebel performed contract work for, were at fault for not informing Mr. Riebel of asbestos exposure in areas he worked in. Some of the areas Mr. Riebel was contracted to work at even repurposed (remanufactured) asbestos on-site.

The case and verdict is part of a movement to hold many corporations who used contractors for dangerous work liable for hazardous exposure to substances like asbestos.

Fred Riebel & Pursuing Mesothelioma Lawsuits

The premises liability lawsuit brought against BP Amoco and United States Steel started after Mr. Riebel’s death in 2016. The lawsuit dragged on for nearly six years before a verdict awarded Mr. Riebel’s family $5.6 million after a 12-hour deliberation.

Fred Riebel was diagnosed with malignant pleural mesothelioma, an asbestos-causing cancer in 2015, and passed away just one year later. Eileen, Mr. Riebel’s wife of 28 years, and their two children had to wait almost six years for a legal decision that let the world know his death was caused by corporate negligence. Due to the quick spread of pleural mesothelioma, pain can be nearly impossible to treat, as it seems to be coming from everywhere.

Malignant pleural mesothelioma is an aggressive disease that can be fatal if not caught early on (the American Cancer Society lists just a 20% survival rate for localized cases found at ~5 years). Pleural mesothelioma is a painful disease, due to both the disease and current treatments.

Symptoms of Mesothelioma

The symptoms of mesothelioma can vary from person to person, depending on exposure or the location of a tumor. Malignant mesothelioma is primarily found in the chest, lungs, heart, and testicles. General symptoms include:

  • Coughing and chest pain
  • Fatigue & exhaustion
  • Shortness of breath
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Lumps in the chest or abdomen
  • Blood clots
  • General Swelling
  • Weight loss
  • Constipation
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Abdominal pain, swelling, and inflammation
  • Localized pain (chest pain, testicular pain, etc)

Mesothelioma Treatments

The National Institute of Health lists the following treatments as standard for patients with malignant mesothelioma:

  • Surgery
  • Radiation therapy
  • Chemotherapy
  • Immunotherapy
  • Targeted therapy

The success rate of the treatments varies from person to person and the stage of the mesothelioma. These treatments are all very intensive and can cause chronic pain throughout the duration.

None of the current treatments for mesothelioma guarantee complete removal of the disease. After surgery or intensive therapy ongoing checkups need to be performed in order to ensure the mesothelioma has not returned.

Little can be done in advanced cases like Mr. Riebel’s, where the mesothelioma is so advanced. Watching a loved one pass away over the course of just one year shows how destructive mesothelioma can be. Using proper safety precautions and protocols needs to be the primary concern of any manufacturer when it comes to the needs of their contractors and employees.

“The slow and painful death of Mr. Riebel is a tragic story that could have been written differently had these companies protected him from working around asbestos located at their premises,” said attorney James C. Pullos, following the verdict. “His widow and children witnessed what will remain with them the rest of their lives.”

Peter Wachowski, Personal Injury Lawyer

If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident due to the negligence of another person or entity or believe you or a loved one has been a victim of asbestos exposure, contact us and get a free case review by calling 866-699-3339 ‌or‌ ‌complete‌ ‌the‌‌ ‌case‌ ‌request‌ ‌form‌.‌

Case information: In re Asbestos Litigation, Case No. 15 L 2124

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