Jackson County issues statement on settlement in courthouse asbestos case

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A settlement has been reached in the class-action lawsuit brought by two former employees who were exposed to asbestos during Jackson County courthouse renovations more than 30 years ago.

The company which initially installed the asbestos in 1954, U.S. Engineering, was also responsible for removing the harmful material during renovations which began in 1983. Since then the company has paid out to the family of one former employee, Nancy Lopez, who worked at the courthouse during the renovations and died of mesothelioma at age 56 in 2010.

U.S. Engineering paid her family $10 million in that settlement. The county paid $400,000 and two other companies involved in the renovations paid $20,000.

That settlement was one of the largest asbestos payouts ever in the state of Missouri at the time. The Kansas City Star reports that this most recent settlement reached $80 million.

Jackson County issued a statement Wednesday, noting that the settlement was paid out by the U.S. Engineering company, and will not come at the expense of Jackson County taxpayers.

“Jackson County is pleased that the case involving US Engineering has been resolved for the benefit of Jackson County citizens and County employees.

Jackson County appreciates US Engineering stepping up to resolve this matter.

Jackson County became aware of the claims when the lawsuit was filed in 2010.

The Presiding Judge of the Court and County Officials immediately arranged for air quality testing to determine whether or not it was safe for people to work in the Jackson County Courthouse located in Downtown Kansas City and for citizens and others to conduct business there. The air quality testing conducted in 2010, and other testing after that date, confirms that the air quality in the Courthouse is safe and meets regulatory guidelines.

Jackson County has taken responsible steps to ensure that the citizens of Jackson County, County employees and anyone who visits or works in the Courthouse are appropriately protected, and it will continue to do so.

In addition, US Engineering’s resolution in this matter has no effect or cost to Jackson County taxpayers, nor does it have any financial impact on Jackson County.

Jackson County will continue its dedicated commitment to both its employees and citizens – a fundamental goal of County leadership each and every day.”