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DALLAS –(February 14, 2012) –Yesterday, a three-judge panel in Turin, Italy found two European executives who operated manufacturing plants in Italy guilty of failing to protect workers and nearby residents from asbestos exposure. Jean-Louise de Cartier of Belgium and Stephan Schmidheiny of Switzerland were sentenced to 16 years each in prison and ordered to pay millions. Prosecutors say that the two shareholders of Swiss firm Eternit are responsible for the deaths of more than 2,000 workers in northern Italy.
The Eternit trial is one of the largest environmental cases to ever come to trial in Europe and could set a precedent for international legal proceedings regarding workplace safety.
“The devastation wrought in this beautiful Italian village by the use of asbestos was completely avoidable and was the result of deliberate calculations — calculations that put a higher value on short-term profits than human life,” said Linda Reinstein, mesothelioma widow and CEO/President of the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization.
Reinstein served as an American delegate and representative of American asbestos victims in the trial and was present for the reading of the final verdict Monday.
“While this verdict brings attention to the devastation that comes from asbestos, it’s important to temper our enthusiasm,” said Russell Budd, president and managing shareholder of Baron and Budd. “The war against the asbestos industry isn’t over. American manufacturers continue to rely on asbestos as a key element in their products. Its use is rampant in developing nations. My hope is that the rest of the world takes notice of today’s verdict and continues its work for a global ban on asbestos.”
Approximately 6,000 former workers and local residents were also seeking justice in the case. Many of the claimants and their families received compensation as part of the verdict.
Eternit closed its Italian operations in 1986, just six years before asbestos was banned in the country.
As part of our mission to protect what’s right, Baron and Budd supports a global ban on asbestos. The firm is a 2012 platinum sponsor of ADAO.
The national mesothelioma law firm of Baron & Budd, P.C. has a more than 30-year history of “Protecting What’s Right” for asbestos sufferers and their families. As one of the first law firms to successfully litigate an asbestos lawsuit, Baron & Budd continues to actively represent veterans, industry workers and others who are suffering as a result of exposure to asbestos. Baron & Budd achieved the largest mesothelioma verdict ever in the state of Texas, a $55 million verdict for an asbestos sufferer and his family in El Paso, Texas. Contact Baron and Budd at 1.866.855.1229 for additional information on mesothelioma treatments, mesothelioma cancer doctors and treatment centers and mesothelioma attorneys.