“Stan Urban, 63, loves anything with an engine so it's not surprising he’s spent his career teaching automotive technology. He focuses on electrical systems, transmissions and engines. Along the way, though, he worked on brakes. Not a lot, but enough.”
That's the opening paragraph of an article that appeared in the Spring 2015 issue of Thrive, a publication of the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center. The story recounts how Urban was diagnosed with mesothelioma in 2013, presumably as a result of exposure to asbestos during a brief period of working on brakes decades ago.
The article notes that “Urban doesn't know when he was exposed to the toxic dust” and that “Urban doesn't harbor bad feelings toward companies that continued using asbestos after it was suspected of being dangerous.”
A blurb on the publication's contents page echoes the speculative conclusion that “Stan most likely was exposed while repairing automotive brakes.”
Urban apparently does know when he was exposed to asbestos, however. He also seems to harbor bad feelings toward companies that used it, despite his protestations to the contrary in the article that gave him the hero treatment. At least, that's the impression one gets from the testimony he provided recently against Hennessy Industries in Madison County Court.
Urban had sought $10 million in damages from a company that may or may not have had anything to do with his exposure, and he sought it in a Madison County courthouse with which neither he nor the defendant had any connection.
Urban is from West Bloomfield, Michigan. Hennessy is headquartered in Nashville. Its predecessor company, Ammco, was based in North Chicago.
Despite his claim in the Thrive article that he didn't know when he was exposed to asbestos, Urban asserted during trial that his exposure occurred while using Ammco brake grinders as a high school auto technology teacher.
Hennessy's defense attorney highlighted similar inconsistencies in Urban's testimony and the jury returned a verdict in favor of the company, as it should have.