Widow of SeaTac Worker Awarded $475K for Asbestos Related Injury & Death

Donald Potts worked at SeaTac Airport for a major construction project between 1970 and 1972. During that time, his wife Lorena claims, he inhaled airborne asbestos particles. In November 2012, his doctor diagnosed him with mesothelioma, an asbestos related cancer.  At 71 years old, he passed away on January 13, 2011. Later that year, his wife and the Estate of Donald Potts commenced trial against the Port of Seattle.

However a few weeks ago, the Port of Seattle Board of Commissioners decided that they would save the Port money by settling with the plaintiffs for $475,000.

In the past several decades, at minimum two other cases involve the Port for penalties related to hazardous asbestos exposure at SeaTac.

What is interesting and important to note about the Potts case is that the alleged exposure dates back to the early 1970’s with a relatively recent diagnosis and death of the mesothelioma patient. This suggests that other victims of asbestos exposure have issues ripe for litigation.

Mesothelioma Victim Awarded $2.1 Million Verdict Against, Defeats Parts Manufacturer

When James Lovelace was 10 years old, he loved to help his father, a big-rig truck driver, service his trucks. This included handling brake components that contained asbestos. Now 66 years old, Mr. Lovelace is a victim of the malignant cancer, mesothelioma.

The brake parts manufacturer, Pneumo Abex, said to the jury, that Lovelace was exposed to asbestos in a lot of other ways besides working with Abex brake parts. In other words, Defendant Abex’s claimed that it wasn’t the manufacturer’s fault that Lovelace suffered from mesothelioma. Rather, it pointed to the general exposure to the deadly material in his house. Through his childhood, Lovelace breathed and touched items that carried asbestos dust from his father’s workplace as a forklift operator at Johns Manville asbestos cement pipe plant in Stockton, CA.

After a three week trial, the jury did not buy much of Abex’s arguments. It turned around and awarded Mr. Lovelace $1 million for future noneconomic damages, $500,000 for past noneconomic damages; $430,000 for future economic damages; and $144,000 for past economic damages.

The SKWC asbestos injury attorneys congratulate Mr. Lovelace and his team of trial lawyers for this important victory.

State Supreme Court Halves Jury Verdict in Asbestos Case

Last year, a jury found in favor of a U.S. Navy sailor’s family awarding the family almost $6 million. However, a few weeks ago the Virginia State Supreme Court cut the jury’s verdict in half to $2.83 million. It held that the jury should not have been allowed to award pain and suffering damages.

Robert Hardick was a former Navy petty officer and had been a shipfitter and machine repairperson for Navy ships. Due to working conditions on Navy ships that included breathing asbestos fibers for a couple decades, Mr. Hardick died after suffering from mesothelioma at 69 years old.

The VA Supreme Court cited the U.S. Supreme Court, where it stated that a “seaman” is a broadly used maritime term. One only needed to “contribute to the function of the vessel or to the accomplishment of its mission.” Thus, the VA Supreme Court held that the trial court erred by allowing the jury to award Hardick’s family nonpecuniary damages for the wrongful death of Mr. Hardick.

Defendant John Crane Inc. expressed approval of this decision to vacate the pain and suffering and loss of society awards.

Air Force Veteran with Mesothelioma Campaigns For Republican

Diagnosed with mesothelioma a little more than 2 years ago, Patrick Burke at 55 had doctorstell him that he has a 10% chance to live 3 years. While he doesn’t know if he’ll survive to see the 2012 presidential election results, he won’t let the deadly disease stop him from campaigning for his candidate of choice, Rick Perry. According to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Burke devoted the past week in support of Perry in Iowa.

From Texas, Burke is a former Air Force veteran. To campaign for Perry was something on Burke’s “bucket list.”

When interviewed by the Telegram, Burke explained that he thought that all citizens had a duty to get involved in the political process, “I tell everybody to put down their beer and stop watching The Simpsons.’

Sadly, about 33% of mesothelioma patients are veterans who were exposed to asbestos while in service. Then, after they left the Air Force, they frequently took jobs that further exposed them to asbestos. This extended exposure inevitably led to countless diagnoses of mesothelioma.

More on Railroad exposure

One source of exposure among railroad workers occured in the buildings that were used to repair locomotives and rail cars.  I have heard stories from railroad workers about the flakes of white particles – some described them as snowflake like – that would fall on and around them as they worked.  What is important is that the amount of asbestos that these workers were exposed to was much greater than what they could see.  Asbestos fibers are not visible with the naked eye.

In these railroad buildings, asbestos was used as insulation in the walls, around pipes and in various other building products.

Asbestos causes mesothelioma and other cancers. The tragedy is that the danger of asbestos was known long before railroad workers were exposed to the product.  All these railroad workers wanted to do was provide for their families.

More on Exposure in Washington – The Railroad Industry

In the Pacific Northwest, the railroad industry has been strong and active.  Many national Railroads, such as the Union Pacific and Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroads have had a long history in both Washington and Oregon.   That history has included not only the motive of rail cars within Washington and Oregon, but, also the maintenance and repair of locomotives, as well as, rail cars, rail equipment and machinery.

Unfortunately, these activities have resulted in a great number of workers being exposed to the deadly asbestos fiber.  Many of these workers have developed mesothelioma and other asbestos related cancers.

Rail workers who develop any asbestos related diseases, including mesothelioma should seek proper representation and obtain the justice they deserve.

Exposure in Washington – shipyards

I have written about the various shipyard locations in the State of Washington where many innocent workers were exposed to asbestos fibers.  Too many of these hard working folks have developed mesothelioma or other asbestos-related cancers.  In some cases, their family members were exposed to the fibers that they brought home in their clothing.

Mesothelioma and all asbestos-related cancers are deadly diseases that workers and their families should never have had to deal with.

For too long before shipyard exposure, manufacturers and asbestos companies knew of the dangers and disregarded these dangers.  Profits over safety was all too often the case.

The asbestos containing products that shipyard workers handled or were exposed to includes, insulation, gaskets, gloves, coatings, ropes, fire protection materials, and cements.  Their may be other products as well.

If you or a loved one have developed mesothelioma or any other asbestos-related disease, contact us.



Malignant mesothelioma is a rare form of cancer caused by asbestos exposure.  The cancer most commonly develops in the pleura, which is the outer lining of the lungs and the internal chest wall. The disease also may occur in the peritoneum, the lining of the abdominal cavity or other areas of the body.

Shortness of breath, chest wall pain and weight loss are common symptoms of the disease. Although chest x-rays and CT scan can detect the disease, it must be confirmed by a biopsy.

Workers began to be commonly exposed to asbestos in the 1940s and continued to be exposed to the disease into the 1970s.  These workers, simply trying to provide for their families were unaware of the dangers of their exposure.  In many cases, workers brought the deadly fibers into their homes and unknowingly exposed their families.

Many ask “why are so many older workers being diagnosed with the disease?”  The answer is that  the symptoms of the disease generally do not appear in its victims until many years after exposure because it takes a very long time for the disease to develop in the human body. This is called a latency period.  The latency for mesothelioma is usually decades.  They is why those exposed so long ago are only now developing the disease.


The dangers of asbestos were not publicly known for many years, although records indicate that manufacturers knew long before the public.  Those who exposed workers and their families to deadly asbestos fibers should be held accountable.

Exposure in Washington – Foss Launch and Tug Company

Foss Launch and Tug Company began in 1889.  As the years went on, the company grew.  The company, among other work, repaired and refurbished vessels.  During much of this work, in the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s, workers were exposed to asbestos containing materials.  Asbestos containing materials on boats included insulation, boilers, pipe fittings and gaskets.  Unfortunately, exposure to asbestos containing materials can lead to mesothelioma and other asbestos related cancers.

Lockheed Shipyard – Mesothelioma & Asbestos-related cancers

Washington State shipyard workers were extensively exposed to asbestos.  One shipyard where workers were exposed to deadly asbestos fibers was Lockheed Shipyard which was located in Seattle near the mouth of the Duwamish River. Lockheed was one of the oldest shipyards in the Pacific Northwest when it closed in 1988.  Workers in the shipyard included boilermakers, pipefitters, insulators, welders and dockworkers.  Mesothelioma takes decades to develop.  Many older and and retired workers have developed the disease.  Lockheed constructed naval frigates, transport vessels, icebreakers and various other ships during its operations. Sadly, many workers were exposed to asbestos during their work at the shipya

About Kevin
Kevin Coluccio was recently named one of the Top 10 Super Lawyers in Washington State. He has long history of successful asbestos law cases and has a stellar reputation for getting result sfor his asbestos injury cases.