It was a typical day for Tony Sorrentino and his son Jon, until Tony suddenly became breathless while moving a couch. Jon, who was concerned, urged his father to see a doctor, but little did they know that it was the start of a devastating journey. After several tests and scans, Tony was diagnosed with mesothelioma, a rare and deadly form of lung cancer caused by exposure to asbestos.
Mesothelioma is common among miners and construction workers, but Tony spent most of his life as a drug and alcohol counselor for young people. The Sorrentino family decided to contact the law firm Bergman Draper Oslund Udo, which has expertise in investigating and prosecuting asbestos cases. It didn’t take long for the investigation to reveal that Tony’s illness was linked to a stint with a Volkswagen dealership when he was in his 20s, where he worked on cars using a tool that produced dust containing asbestos.
The Sorrentinos filed a lawsuit against the German automaker, and last Monday, a King County jury awarded Sorrentino’s estate $5.75 million in damages. Chandler Udo, the Sorrentinos’ attorney, explained that a dangerous exposure to asbestos may not be apparent to many of those who are diagnosed with cancer decades later because the latency period can be anywhere from 10 to 70 years.
In court filings, Volkswagen argued that it was following all health and safety standards in place at the time Sorrentino was employed by the dealership. However, the jury found that Volkswagen was liable for manufacturing products that were unsafe and a “substantial factor” in causing the mesothelioma.
Jon Sorrentino said that it was difficult to sit in the courtroom and hear attorneys for Volkswagen argue they weren’t at fault for his dad’s sudden health decline and death. But in the end, justice was served, and the Sorrentinos’ legal actions against other defendants in the case, including the manufacturer of the tool he used on brake jobs, settled before trial.
Despite the victory, Jon Sorrentino is still grappling with his father’s death and the aftermath of the lawsuit. He said that his dad was a super amazing guy who would do anything for anybody and not ask for much in return. As for the money, Jon is still trying to decide what to do with it, but he plans to set some aside for his daughter and hopes to turn it into something bigger in the future.