A Cook County, Illinois, jury handed down $3.5 million in damages to the family of a Chicago man who died of mesothelioma in 2016, finding chemical and oil entities owned by BP largely responsible for his asbestos exposure.
The verdict laid 61% of the blame for Fred Riebel’s death and injuries on subsidiary companies of Amoco Corp., which merged with BP PLC in 1998. About 3% of the blame fell on U.S. Steel. Riebel worked at various industrial sites, including refineries and research facilities, in northern Illinois and Indiana which BP later took control of.
The jury determined that Riebel’s estate, which included his wife of 28 years and two adult children, suffered about $5.6 million in damages for emotional distress, lost wages and medical expenses, among others. But the jury trimmed about $2 million of those damages when they found Riebel to be about 36% responsible for his own sickness.
Riebel’s estate said the companies understood the dangers of asbestos, but did little to protect him.
Riebel was diagnosed with mesothelioma in January 2015 and died about 18 months later,
Riebel did various jobs at Amoco sites. From 1985 to 1986, he was an assistant to a journeyman insulator who worked at a chemical facility. After that, Riebel spent three years as a “asbestos abatement worker” at various sites.
During this time, site leaders sometimes told Riebel to wear a paper mask, but most times he wasn’t given this instruction.