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2 AWARDED DAMAGES AFTER ASBESTOS WORK MANUFACTURERS TO PAY $441,500

Three former manufacturers of asbestos-related products were ordered Friday to pay two Buffalo-area men a total of $441,500 for the asbestos-caused lung disease they contracted while working as asbestos insulation installers for decades.

Following a three-week trial before State Supreme Court Justice James B. Kane, the jury awarded $193,000 to Joseph Walters, 71, of the Town of Tonawanda and $248,500 to Fay Skadan, 64, of Williamsville.

The jury ordered Walters' award to be paid by Owens Corning Fiber Glass Corp. of Cleveland, Ohio; Owens-Illinois Corp. of Toledo and Keene Corp. of New York City.

Owens Corning Fiber Glass and Owens-Illinois are solely responsible for Skadan's award.

Both verdicts include awards of $65,000 in punitive damages to be paid by Owens Corning, the principal manufacturer in the case, and $1,000 punitive damages by Owens-Illinois to each of the men.

Attorneys Carl A. Green and John N. Lipsitz argued that both men contracted asbestosis, a disabling lung disease, while working with products that lacked proper health warnings. Production of asbestos products was halted nationally in the early 1970s.

The two attorneys also contended the men's exposure to asbestos has greatly increased their risk of contracting cancer because of the substance's known cancer-causing potential.

Attorneys for the three concerns, which will appeal the verdicts, argued that the men's physical conditions deteriorated because of their decades-long cigarette smoking habits.

Both men began working with asbestos products in the 1940s. Walters was forced to take a disability retirement in 1977. Skadan worked until 1987.

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