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A woman who developed mesothelioma as a result of washing the clothes of her grandfather, who was an insulation work, was awarded $20 million by a Baltimore City jury.

The Maryland meshothelioma lawsuit was brought by Jocelyn Farrar, a 57 year-old nursing professor at University of Maryland. Farrar alleged that she developed the fatal cancer from second-hand asbestos exposure to fibers carried home on her grandfather’s work clothing while she was a teenager.

John Hentgen, Farrar’s grandfather, worked with asbestos-laden insulation from Georgia Pacific Corp. in the late 60s. More than 40 years later, Farrar argued that the insulation manufacturer was responsible for her illness, which has required part of her lung to be removed in an effort to fight the cancer.

On October 30, a Baltimore City Circuit Court jury awarded Farrar $20,272,000, finding that Georgia Pacific was liable for her mesothelioma cancer. The judgment includes $18.5 million for non-economic damages, $1.6 million for lost wages and earning capacity, $97,000 for past medical expenses, and $75,000 for future medical costs. According to a report in the Maryland Daily Record, the award is exempt from the damage cap in Maryland, because the exposure occurred before July 1986.

Mesothelioma is a rare form of cancer that attacks the lungs and chest lining. It is caused by asbestos exposure, usually resulting from inhaling or consuming asbestos fibers used in industrial processes. Asbestos exposure can occur with both those who directly worked with the fibers, or from second hand-exposure by family members or friends who inhale the fibers carried home on clothes and in hair.

As a result of a long latency period of between 20 and 40 years between exposure to asbestos and diagnosis, the cancer is often at a very advanced stage by the time it is discovered and usually results in death.

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