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McLean County jury awards $90 million in asbestos suit

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BLOOMINGTON — A McLean County jury returned verdicts totaling nearly $90 million against four companies accused of exposing a man to asbestos.

Charles Gillenwater, 59, contracted mesothelioma while working as a pipe fitter in the 1970s at several work sites, including Illinois State University, Bridgestone-Firestone and The Eureka Co., according to his lawyers, James Wylder and Andrew Kelly with Wylder Corwin Kelly of Bloomington.

The jury deliberated over two days following a five-week trial.

The jury awarded compensatory damages of $9.6 million against defendants Honeywell International Inc., Pneumo Abex, Owens-Illinois Inc. and John Crane Inc. Punitive damages of $20 million were found against Honeywell, Peneumo Abex and $40 million against Owens-Illinois.

The jury found that Honeywell, Pneumo Abex and Owens-Illinois suppressed or conspired with others to suppress information about the hazards of asbestos, including an agreement not to warn employees and customers about the dangers of the substance.

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