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$2.6 million awarded to worker with occupational illness

An employee of an artificial flavors plant in California was awarded $2.6 million in a claim against the manufacturers of hazardous chemicals that he was exposed to over a period of almost 10 years. Manufacturers are required to provide adequate warning about the dangers posed by its products. In turn, employers should protect the workers against contracting an occupational illness by providing protective equipment.

Reportedly, the worker contracted bronchiolitis obliterans, a disease that causes bronchial tissue to change into scar tissue. Not much information about this relatively new occupational disease is known, but it was reported that the damage is irreversible. With his current lung capacity at 40 percent, the worker is not a lung transplant candidate yet, but doctors are unsure at what pace potential further deterioration will take place. It was also asserted that the mental health of the worker has been affected by his condition.

As far back as in 2000, the manufacturers of the majority of the chemicals used at the plant disclosed that a study determined the hazards of diacetyl. The worker claims that his condition was caused by inhaling diacetyl on a daily basis. The manufacturers of the chemical assert that they provide adequate warning on the labels of their products. They allege that the owners of the artificial flavors plant failed to provide respiratory protection and proper ventilation in areas where the chemical was used.

After a trial that lasted for four weeks, the Orange County Superior Court ruled in favor of the worker who has to live with the devastating occupational illness. California workers who suffer the consequences of exposure to hazardous chemicals may have to face life-long financial repercussions. In addition to pursuing workers' compensation benefits, there may be a viable third-party claim if another party negligently contributed to the contraction of the illness. If such a claim is successfully presented, additional monetary relief may be awarded.

Source: Mission Viejo Ca. Patch, "Foothill Ranch Worker Awarded $2.6 Million for Lung Disease Caused by Chemicals", Paige Austin, Feb. 13, 2015

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