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Woman’s Family Awarded $3.5 million After She Dies from Asbestos from Doing Her Husband’s Laundry

Posted on: October 8th, 2015 by William Connelly

The family of Barbara Brandes was awarded $3.5 million by a jury in King County, Washington. Mrs. Brandes recently passed away after suffering from mesothelioma. In February 2014, she started feeling ill and she was diagnosed with the cancer last summer. She passed away on April 15, the day before the closing arguments were to take place in her case against Brand Insulations.

Mesothelioma has a very long latency period, and most cases are not diagnosed until about 30 years after the exposure took place. Mrs. Brandes was diagnosed just four months after she started feeling ill and she was told that she would only have one year to live.

Although mesothelioma has primarily affected men, there are more and more women who are being diagnosed with the deadly disease. Many of these women did not actually work with the hazardous substance, but were exposed to it by a family member who brought it home from work. This is exactly what happened to Mrs. Brandes, who washed her husband’s clothes that were covered in asbestos for years.

Ramona Brandes, the daughter of Barbara, remembers all of the times that her mom would dust debris off the clothing of her father, Raymond Brandes, who worked at the ARCO Cherry Point refinery in Ferndale, Whatcom County. The debris that she remembers seeing was actually asbestos.

This is a case of secondary household exposure, since Mrs. Brandes would wash her husband’s clothes and then sweep up the laundry room. Mr. Brandes was unaware that he was exposing his wife and his eight children to the toxic and hazardous substance. He passed away from numerous diseases in January, with asbestosis being one of the illnesses.
Lawsuits have been filed against Brand Insulations, in addition to ARCO, Kaiser Gypsum, Hansom Permanente Cement, Metalclad Insulation, Metropolitan Life Insurance and Union Carbide. Each of these companies manufactured, sold or distributed products that contained asbestos or products that were used in conjunction to asbestos.

“ARCO, when they built the refinery, put in four showers for over 200 workers. You would have to wait hours to take a shower after a shift,” said Ramona Brandes. “My dad didn’t and they did not provide any laundry service.”

Brand Insulations was found guilty of negligence and had to award $3.5 million to Mrs. Brandes after a trial that took two weeks. In Washington, this is the largest compensation that has been awarded for second-hand asbestos exposure in a lawsuit.

The other six companies that have been accused of negligence, product liability, conspiracy or wanton misconduct all settled with the Brandes family, but the amount was not disclosed.

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