New Jersey engineering and construction firm Foster Wheeler Corp. has been ordered to pay $5.2 million to the survivors of an employee who died in 2006 after being diagnosed with mesothelioma, a cancer related to asbestos exposure. Richard Walmach was a career naval machinist who died after filing the suit, which claimed the company failed to disclose asbestos risks. Foster Wheeler Corp. is a supplier of boilers, steam generators and other power equipment for the U.S. Navy.
Foster Wheeler has faced many other asbestos-related suits and has paid over $100 million in damages, but this is the first time the company has been ordered to pay punitive damages. Of Walmach’s $5.2 million, $2 million was for punitive damages. Walmach worked at the company for 37 years and used jackhammers to remove asbestos-packed insulation from boilers. He also worked at the Long Beach Naval Shipyard when asbestos was being removed there in the 1960’s.