Attorneys settled a lawsuit Friday in Buchanan County that accused an engineering firm of mishandling asbestos in the Jackson County Courthouse, resulting in the death of a longtime employee.

The original lawsuit was filed by Nancy Lopez, who worked for 27 years in the Jackson County Courthouse in Kansas City.

“The only thing she did wrong was to come to work every day,” said Lou Accurso, the Lopezes’ attorney. “U.S. Engineering didn’t follow the proper rules and procedures. And there are still significant amounts of asbestos in the courthouse.”

Ruth Lopez, Nancy Lopez’s mother, testified that her daughter died in October 2010 from mesothelioma, a form of cancer caused by exposure to asbestos. Mrs. Lopez said that after discussions with her sons she’d agreed with her attorney to a $10 million settlement from U.S. Engineering Co.

“This is the largest asbestos settlement in Missouri but no amount of money will replace the life lost,” Mr. Accurso said.

Under terms of the settlement, the Accurso law firm will receive just over $4 million and Mrs. Lopez will receive $5.9 million.

The Missouri Supreme Court appointed Buchanan County Circuit Judge Patrick Robb to hear the lawsuit, which had been scheduled for a lengthy jury trial prior to the settlement agreement.

There is a class-action lawsuit seeking medical expenses to monitor and evaluate a large number of employees’ medical conditions relative to each being susceptible to mesothelioma, for which there is no cure. That lawsuit hasn’t been settled.

Marshall White can be reached at marshall.white@newspressnow.com.

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