The family of a Florence, Ala., woman who died in 2013 from the lung disease mesothelioma will receive a $3.5 million award for her pain and suffering and medical expenses. Barbara Bobo inhaled secondhand asbestos fibers while laundering her husband’s work clothes for more than two decades. Her husband did clean-up work for a period of time after asbestos insulation was installed at the Athens-based Browns Ferry Nuclear Plant, which is owned and operated by the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA).
James Bobo, who began working for the plant in 1975, died of asbestos-induced lung cancer in 1997. His wife was diagnosed with malignant pleural mesothelioma, a rare lung cancer caused by asbestos exposure, in November 2011. Judge Lynwood Smith of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Alabama issued a judgment in favor of Melissa Ann Bobo and Shannon Jean Bobo Cox, Bobo’s daughters and the co-personal representatives of her estate. Judge Smith found Browns Ferry violated worker safety regulations set by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, as well as its own safeguards.
Mrs. Bobo underwent surgery after her 2011 diagnosis to remove the lining in her affected lung. She also received chemotherapy treatments, which were painful and resulted in adverse side effects. Mrs. Bobo, who was never an employee or contractor of TVA and was never physically inside the plant, would shake out her husband’s work clothes in her home washroom, causing dust to disperse into the air. She would clean the floors of the washroom with a broom and dustpan, creating airborne dust she breathed. Mrs. Bobo also had non-occupational exposure to asbestos from 1965-1975 when her husband worked as a machine operator for the Alabama Wire Plant in Florence. She was also exposed to asbestos during her years working as a beautician in Florence.
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