HUNTSVILLE, Alabama – An Alabama federal judge has awarded a significant judgment to the family of a woman who died from the lung disease mesothelioma after inhaling asbestos fibers for decades while washing her husband’s work clothes. Mesothelioma is a rare cancer caused by exposure to asbestos.
For 22 years, Barbara Bobo of Florence, Alabama, washed work clothes brought home by her husband, James, from his job at the Browns Ferry Nuclear plant, which is owned and operated by the Tennessee Valley Authority. Mr. Bobo regularly did clean-up work after asbestos insulation was installed at the plant.
Studies have shown that many workers such as Mr. Bobo unknowingly carried asbestos fibers home on their clothes, exposing their families to the cancer-causing mineral.
Mr. Bobo died of lung cancer caused by asbestos exposure in 1997. His wife was diagnosed with mesothelioma in 2011, and had extensive surgery to remove the lining of her affected lung. She also endured painful chemotherapy treatments that she described as the “Red Devil” because of the horrible side effects, including spitting up her own flesh.
On Sept. 29, Judge Lynwood Smith of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Alabama found that the Browns Ferry plant violated worker safety regulations established by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), and the plant’s own safeguards, saying “relatively simple, low-cost methods which if implemented … may have prevented Barbara Bobo’s contraction of mesothelioma.”
“Judge Smith’s words say it all in this case,” says Dallas attorney Jay Stuemke of Simon Greenstone Panatier, PC, who represents the Bobos. “This didn’t have to happen. If the TVA had simply followed the law and its own guidelines, these two people might still be alive.”
Judge Smith awarded Mrs. Bobo’s children a substantial monetary award based on her pain and suffering. The judge also awarded compensation for medical expenses, which will be offset by compensation the family received from various asbestos bankruptcy trusts.
The case is Melissa Ann Bobo, et al. v. Tennessee Valley Authority, No. CV 12-S-1930-NE.