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Jury in Spartanburg awards $14 million in asbestos suit

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Staff Report
Published Oct. 14, 2015

A state court jury has awarded $14 million to the family of a former worker at a Celanese Corp. plant in Spartanburg County who died in 2014 from mesothelioma after being exposed in the 1970s to asbestos fibers. The state court jury after a nine-day trial returned the damages verdict for the family of Dennis Seay, who worked at the polyester fiber plant from 1971 to 1980.

Celanese spokesman Travis Jacobsen said in an email statement that the company is “extremely disappointed with the jury’s verdict, and we remain confident that we will prevail based on a vigorous appeal of the case.”

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Seay worked for Daniel Construction Co., but the lawsuit contended Irving, Texas-based Celanese controlled the safety policies at the plant and failed to warn or protect against asbestos hazards. Seay performed maintenance and repair work. He was 70 when he died.

In the Oct. 8 verdict, jurors awarded $12 million in actual damages and $2 million in punitive damages to Seay’s wife of 48 years, Linda Seay, and the couple’s children, Angie, Justin and Dennis Jr. Seay died a little more than a year after he was diagnosed with mesothelioma.

“In that last year of his life, his lungs collapsed 10 times, and they had to be drained 11 times,” said Chris Panatier, the family's attorney and a partner at Simon Greenstone Panatier Bartlett P.C. in Dallas. “He suffered immensely and ultimately died the way many victims of mesothelioma do: (from) a combination of blood constriction, wasting and suffocation.”

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