A Mississippi jury in May reached a record-setting asbestos lawsuit verdict, awarding $22 million in actual damages and $300 million in punitive damages to Thomas Brown. Brown worked with asbestos-based drilling mud as a roughneck on land-based and offshore oil rigs in the 1980s. He was later diagnosed with asbestosis, a breathing condition that results in respiratory problems, chest pain, coughing and lung-tissue scarring, and is caused by a buildup of asbestos fibers in the lungs. Sadly, Brown is not alone. The use of drilling mud containing asbestos was widespread on both land-based and offshore oil rigs from the 1960s through the late 1980s, including in Alabama and the Gulf of Mexico region. Because the damaging effects of asbestos exposure can take decades to manifest themselves, many oil rig workers are only now experiencing the severe health problems associated with asbestos. Drilling mud is a mixture of dirt and chemicals that form a compound used to keep drilling holes clear and cool the drill bits. For decades, the most common chemical additives were white, flaky powders that were asbestos mixed with other compounds or, in some cases, pure asbestos. A wide range of rig positions may have been exposed to asbestos-based drilling mud, including:
- Mud engineers
- Assistant drillers
The medical problems stemming from asbestos exposure are often deadly. The most common conditions caused by asbestos are:
- Lung cancer
If you or a family member worked with drilling mud during the 1960s through the 1980s and suffer health problems associated with asbestos exposure, please contact the Mobile, Alabama, asbestos attorneys at Long & Long, for a free case evaluation.