For decades, a California auto mechanic worked on vehicles using asbestos-laden parts. Eventually, he developed mesothelioma from contact with the cancer-causing fibers. But when he sought compensation, he was consistently turned down. Suffering from cancer, he recently relied on a California appeals court to finally give him justice.

His story, for some of our readers, feels like a typical one in which a negligent party is not held accountable for having caused a workplace injury or illness because of unsafe working conditions. But despite having failed to collect compensation from more than 30 companies, our state’s court of appeals finally ruled in favor of the mechanic, which will allow him to seek punitive damages from Ford Motor Co.

The California Supreme Court had initially ruled against the man by using the argument from a 2008 case that stated that a company could not be held liable for damages if a person knew about a danger prior to injury. But what the three-judge appeals panel pointed out in their ruling this month, the state Supreme Court failed to satisfy one key point: the man’s knowledge of the asbestos risk. Furthermore, based on testimony from coworkers, it was proven that had the man known about the risk, he would have taken better safety measures when working with the parts.

By receiving a judgment in favor of his claim, the man may finally seek compensation for his work-related illness. Although it would have been nice if he had been awarded benefits when he first filed his complaint, our readers are probably grateful that he is getting the chance now rather than not at all.

Source: Courthouse News Service, “Mesothelioma Sufferer May Get More From Ford,” William Dotinga, March 27, 2014