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A San Francisco Superior Court jury has ordered Georgia Pacific Corp., an asbestos manufacturer, to pay over $7 million in damages, in the largest asbestos-related verdict ever. The decision came after the manufacturer exposed a onetime film actress and singer, Joan Mahoney, to fibers, causing her to contract terminal cancer, mesothelioma, while she was working in a home-remodeling business with her husband, Daniel Mahoney. The jury assessed the Mahoney’s damages to be $20 million and assigned 30% of the responsibility to Georgia Pacific Corp., the only defendant in the trial. The other $13 million will go unpaid, although, the couple did reach private settlements with other manufacturers.

Georgia Pacific Corp. says that although they do sympathize with the couple, the frequency and amount of exposure in which Mrs. Mahoney described, along with the type of asbestos fiber itself, makes it highly unlikely that the product, formerly made by the company, could have caused the illness. The Mahoneys, however, say they used the Georgia Pacific Corp.’s asbestos compound to fill cracks in sheetrock during the time they were involved in the home-remodeling business to make ends meet. They also claim the company continued to produce the compound after learning it caused cancer and stopped only after the federal government outlawed asbestos products in 1977.

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