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San Francisco – Asbestos Trades – Mesothelioma Lawsuit
Jury Rejects Plaintiffs' Attorney's 'Suggestion' for $26 Million in Damages in Asbestos Trial
A sign of things to come?
ALos Angeles jury has turned down an asbestos plaintiffs' lawyer's suggestion to award his clients $25 million in noneconomic damages and $1 million in economic damages.
Instead, the jury came back with a defense verdict in an asbestos case that lasted seven weeks and had started with eight defendants before five settled out, according toThe Recorder legal newspaper's Kate Moser.
The plaintiffs, represented by Gary Paul of Waters, Kraus & Paul, had originally sought more than $9 million. The firm, formerly called Waters & Kraus, was mentioned in an opinion piece published recently in theDaily Journal legal newspaper about how out-of-state plaintiffs' firms that file high-dollar asbestos claims are opening offices inCalifornia. According to the op-ed, "Dallas' Waters & Kraus, which opened a smallLos Angeles office in 2001, has been described by aDaily Journal reporter as having a 'prominent presence' since its 2006 merger with the plaintiffs' firm Paul & Janofsky." Gary Paul was installed over the summer as vice president of the national plaintiffs' lawyers' lobbying group.
The firm has also been criticized for tactics employed in someCalifornia cases. Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Aurelio Munoz has sharply criticized the firm for repeatedly filing cases inTexas, dismissing them, and then re-filing them inLos Angeles -- all in an apparent effort to play what he termed the "grisly game of asbestos litigation."
Meanwhile, according to theRecorder article, the plaintiffs in the asbestos case had asked the jury to make the three remaining defendants, Daimler Trucks North America, Ford Motor Co., and Kaiser Gypsum Company Inc., 35% responsible for the $25 million in noneconomic damages. The trio would have been jointly and severally liable for the economic damages.
The jury found that William James Goebel, who died at age 78, wasexposed to asbestos from Kaiser Gypsum and Ford, but that there was no defect in the design of those defendants' products. The jurors concluded Goebel was not exposed to asbestos from Daimler Trucks.
Defense-side lawyer Eliot Jubelirer, also not involved in the case, wondered whether the plaintiff had asked too much.
"I think the plaintiff lawyers are testing to see how large an award they can ask for without the jury rejecting it," Jubelirer, a partner in theSan Francisco office of Schiff Hardin, told the paper. "Perhaps they overstepped the line here and asked for too much and they may have soured the jurors."
San Francisco – Asbestos Trades – Mesothelioma Lawsuit
TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 10, 2009 9:57:00 PM
San Francisco court plans to create asbestos docket
BY CHRIS RIZO
SAN FRANCISCO (LegalNewsline)-With an exploding number ofasbestos-related lawsuits being filed inSan Francisco, court officials here are planning the creation of a single department where the often-complex cases will be heard.
The plans have largely received a warm reception from the defense bar and from one of the city's leading asbestos litigators: StephenTigerman, a named partner in theSan Francisco law firm ofHarowitz &Tigerman LLP.
Tigerman told LegalNewsline on Tuesday that having just one judge hear asbestos cases will not only help streamline litigation and avoid inconsistent rulings, it will also help the judge determine which lawyers are "playing hardball," not wanting to reach settlements and who is trying to get cases resolved.
"We actually welcome the prospect of having the court oversee a case from beginning to end," saidTigerman, who has been litigating asbestos cases for the last 25 years.Tigerman's small boutiquemesothelioma firm handles about 20 cases at a time, he said.
"We've been through a good number of presiding judges and we've been through a good number of efforts to try to streamline the program to make things run more efficiently,"Tigerman said, "and we welcome (efforts) to try to improve the efficiency of the litigation."
Tigerman is on the board of directors of the San Francisco Trial Lawyers Association.
The asbestos case management department will be led by San Francisco County Superior Court Judge Harold Kahn with the help of Commissioner ArleneBorick. Neighboring Alameda County Superior Court has a similar system, with a much lighter asbestos-related docket thanSan Francisco has currently.
"It has worked very well over there,"Tigerman said of theAlamedaCounty program.
A public hearing on San Francisco Presiding Judge James McBride's proposal is scheduled for Nov. 17.
General Order 162 would require that beginning Jan. 4, all pretrial motions in asbestos cases and other matters would be heard by the new department.
"TheSan Francisco Superior Court carries the largest asbestos caseload of any ofCalifornia's 58 Superior Courts," McBride said in a statement. "The aim of this new proposed general order is to achieve more effective case management."
McBride said the new asbestos department would, among other things, eliminate the pattern of repeated continued trial dates.
"We want to make sure that cases set for trial are ready for trial, and that cases that should settle before trial do so before we call in a large panel of jurors," he said. "Jurors are the most precious resource of our system and must be treated as such."
Last year, 45 percent of jurors summoned for civil trials were used to hear asbestos litigation, a court report indicates.
San Francisco County Superior Court currently has more than 1,660 active pending asbestos cases, which account for about two-thirds of the state's overall asbestos caseload.
Many cases allege exposure to asbestos-containing fibers can cause such serious illnesses asmesothelioma and asbestosis.
From LegalNewsline: Reach staff reporter ChrisRizo at email@example.com.
San Francisco – Asbestos Exposure – $3.4 Million Mesothelioma Award
California jury awards $3.4M in asbestos case
By Tooher, Nora
Date: Friday, July 31 2009
ASan Franciscojury deliberated one day before finding a Canadian company liable for exposing a deceased formerJohns-Manville Transite plant worker to asbestos.
Richard Worthley Sr., aVietnam veteran, worked in theplant inWaukegan,Ill. from May 1968 to 1984, when it closed.
He moved tosouthernCalifornia and worked as amaintenance mechanic and service technician until 2004, when he wasdiagnosed with mesothelioma, a cancer caused by asbestos exposure.
The defendant in the case,Advocate Mines of Newfoundland,Canada, argued that it had stopped supplying asbestos to the plant 13 months before Worthley began working there, and denied liability for any asbestos exposure.
But Plaintiffs' attorney James Nevin told jurors that Worthley - who held several jobs at the plant as apainter, production planner and millwright - was exposed to dust from rawasbestos fiber on a daily basis.
The fiber he was exposed to was used to makeasbestos-cement pipe, and it included fiber supplied byAdvocate Mines that remained in the plant, Nevin said.
San Francisco – Asbestos Trades – $3.4 Million Mesothelioma Lawsuit
Jury Assesses a $3.4 Million Verdict for Johns-Manville Worker With Mesothelioma
Former Johns-Manville worker, Richard Worthley Sr., was exposed to raw asbestos supplied by Advocate Mines Limited. Due to his occupational asbestos exposure, he ultimatelydeveloped and succumbed to mesothelioma. In his defective product and negligence case against Advocate Mines Limited, aSan Francisco jury ruled in favor of Mr. Worthley's family, assessing a $3.4million verdict.
Novato,CA (PRWEB) July 23, 2009 -- After a single day of deliberations on Wednesday, July 22, 2009, aSan Francisco jury ruled in favor of the family of Richard Worthley Sr., a deceased former Johns-Manville Transite plant worker fromBeaumont,California. The jury assessed a combined verdict of almost $3.4million against Advocate Mines Limited due to their contribution in causing Mr. Worthley's mesothelioma and death. The jury determined that Advocate Mines Limited exposed Mr. Worthley to its defectively designed asbestos product, failed to warn about the dangers of their asbestos product, and that they were negligent. Advocate Mines Limited is an asbestos mine inBaie Verte,Newfoundland.
Mr. Worthley served in the United States Marine Corps in theSan Francisco Bay Area,San Diego,California, andVietnam from 1963 to 1967. In May 1968, he started his career at the Johns-Manville,Waukegan,IL plant as a painter, then a production planner, and eventually as a millwright. When the Johns-Manville plant closed in 1984, he worked as a maintenance mechanic and service technician throughoutSouthern California. In 2004, Mr. Worthley was diagnosed with mesothelioma, a fatal asbestos caused cancer of the pleura, the organ that protects the lungs.
We demonstrated to the jury that it was the total dose of asbestos that Mr. Worthley was exposed to at the Johns-Manville plant, including resuspended asbestos fiber from Advocate Mines Limited, that contributed together to cause his mesothelioma and death.
Advocate Mines Limited supplied bulk asbestos fiber to the Johns-Manville,Waukegan,IL plant from December 1963 to April 1967. During his career at the plant from May 1968 to November 1984, Mr. Worthley was exposed to dust from the raw asbestos fiber used to make Transite asbestos-cement pipe, including asbestos fiber that had been reentrained and resuspended from when Advocate Mines Limited supplied asbestos fiber to the plant. In addition to simply being present on a daily basis in the contaminated plant, one of Mr. Worthley's jobs was to clean and repair the Transite manufacturing equipment. This included the willows, cleaning and repairing the dust collection equipment, the bag houses, ventilators, and cyclones. All these activities exposed Mr. Worthley to asbestos dust, including asbestos that originated from Advocate Mines Limited.
The trial began on June 10, 2009 and was presided over by the Hon. Tomar Mason in Department 606 of theSan Francisco Superior Court. At trial, plaintiffs presented evidence showing that when used as intended, hazardous levels of respirable asbestos dust from Advocate Mines Limited raw asbestos fiber was released into the background of the facility. By 1963, it was well established in medicine and science that asbestos caused asbestosis, pleural disease, lung cancer, and mesothelioma. Yet, Advocate Mines Limited supplied its defective asbestos fiber without any warnings or any other reasonable care to avoid injury to others. The jury assigned 5% percent of the liability to Advocate Mines Limited.
"We demonstrated to the jury that it was the total dose of asbestos that Mr. Worthley was exposed to at the Johns-Manville plant, including resuspended asbestos fiber from Advocate Mines Limited, that contributed together to cause his mesothelioma and death." said James P. Nevin, counsel for Richard Worthley. Mr. Nevin of Brayton❖Purcell LLP, represented the Worthley family at trial.
Defendant Advocate Mines Limited was represented at trial by John Graniez and Suzanne Golden of Lewis Brisbois Bisgaard & Smith LLP.
Mickie Worthley et al. v. Advocate Mines Limited, et. al.
San Francisco Superior Court Case No. 432308
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San Francisco – Asbestos Trades – $10 Million Mesothelioma Verdict
Calif. appeals court: Blaming Navy for asbestos is OK
FRIDAY, JUNE 04, 2010 11:14:00 AM
BY JOHN O'BRIEN
SAN FRANCISCO (LegalNewsline) - Blame can be placed on the U.S. Navy forasbestos exposure, aCalifornia appeals court ruled Thursday.
The decision came after one of 17 entities that could have been ordered to pay a percentage of damages in an asbestos lawsuit appealed the exclusion of the Navy. Ulysses Collins died in 2005 ofmesothelioma and worked in naval shipyards from 1960-73 and 1976-94.
A jury allocated 20 percent of fault to Plant Insulation Company, which appealed to the state First District Court of Appeals. The overall verdict is worth $10 million.
"Plant argues the Navy's immunity is essentially one from suit and does not mean the service owes no duty of care as to its enlisted personnel and civilian employees and thus cannot be characterized as a 'tortfeasor' for purposes of Proposition 51," the decision says.
"Plaintiffs contend sovereign immunity is based on the historical adage 'the King can do no wrong' and therefore the Navy's actions cannot be 'wrongful' and thus no 'fault' can be allocated to the service.
"We agree with Plant and conclude the Navy is properly included among those entities to which fault may be apportioned in an asbestos case."
Attorney Mark Behrens of Shook Hardy & Bacon said having the Navy on the verdict form is "significant."
"My understanding is thatCollinswas an outlier and that mostCalifornia courts have listed the Navy on verdict sheets in asbestos cases," Behrens said.
"The appellate court's decision thus settles the practice and prevents other trial courts from going awry in the future."
Fifteen percent of blame was attributed toFibreboard, 5 percent to Chevron/Standard Oil, 30 percent to Owens-Corning Fiberglas/FENCO/Kaylo, and 30 percent to Johns-Manville/Western Asbestos/Western MacArthur.
The court wrote the Navy is "immune from liability" in the case because of an exception to the Federal Tort Claims Act that bars actions based on the federal government's alleged negligence in using asbestos on ships.
From LegalNewsline: Reach John O'Brien by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
San Francisco – Asbestos Trades – $7.5 Million Mesothelioma Lawsuit
$7.5 Million Awarded in Asbestos Lawsuit Settlement
Thursday, January 15th, 2009
A former marine machinist, Robert "Bobby" Hilt ofVallejo,California, won $7.5 million in a mesothelioma lawsuit, which is one of the highest settlements for a patient as old as the 64-year-old Hilt inCalifornia courts' history.
Bobby Hilt was diagnosed with mesothelioma earlier in 2008, nearly a year from his trial.
Mesothelioma is an almost always fatal cancer of the tissues lining the lungs. Currently there is no effective treatment for the disease, which is almost always caused by exposure to asbestos. In most cases, mesothelioma does not develop until decades after exposure. Scientists are not sure why this is, but they do agree that asbestos exposure does lead to the cancer. Patients typically only survive for 12 to 18 months after their diagnosis of mesothelioma.
Hilt sued 11 defendants for causing his exposure to asbestos during his work as a machinist in the 1960s through the 1970s. He claimed that the defendants either made, supplied, or distributed the asbestos-containing materials around which he worked during his career.
Hilt's career involved a stint at the Bayshore plant for Schlage Lock Company from 1963 to 1965. After that time, he moved to work at the Hunter's Point Naval Shipyard until 1972. During the early part of the 1970s, Hilt worked as a machinist in the nuclear reactor compartments of the Sturgeon submarines at the Mare Island Naval Shipyard. It was during this decade of working at these places that Hilt feels he inhaled asbestos fibers that led to his mesothelioma. Since after his time at the shipyards, he went to work at the U.S. Mint inSan Francisco from 1972 until he retired in 2004.
The trial began early in November 2008, but two weeks into the proceedings, there were no longer any defendants still in court as the last of the eleven had chosen to settle out of court. Hilt and his wife declined to make a statement on the settlement.
San Francisco – Asbestos Trades – $7.5 Mesothelioma Award
California man awarded $7.5m in Mesothelioma case
December 19th, 2008 by Wendi Lewis
A mandiagnosed with mesothelioma earlier this year will receive a $7.5 million settlement against 11 defendants that reportedly made, supplied or distributed the asbestos-containing products he handled and was exposed to in the workplace, according to a story in the Times-Herald. Robert Hilt of Vallejo,California., is 64. It is believed he developedmesotheliomaduring his work as a marine machinist.
The case was heard inSan Francisco Superior Court last month. The Times-Herald reportsthat two weeks into the case, the last of the defendants settled out of court. It is believed the settlement is the richest inCalifornia history, particularly for a person of Hilt’s age, the paper reports.
According to the Times-Herald, it is believed that Hilt was exposed toasbestos at a series of jobs in theSan Francisco area beginning in 1963 and continuing through 1972, during which he was employed as a janitor and later as a machinist in two shipyards, where he worked on submarines. Following his stint in the shipyards, Hilt worked for the U.S. Mint inSan Francisco until 2004. He and his wife, Geraldine, have lived inVallejo for about 20 years.
San Francisco – Asbestos Company – $4.3 Million Asbestos Lung Cancer Verdict
GEORGE SMITH vs. AP GREEN INDUSTRIES INC. ET AL
May 23, 2001,San Francisco Superior Court, Case number: 315105
Description of Case: George Smith worked as apipefitter at the Mobil Oil refinery inTorrance,California in 1966. He was exposed to asbestos on the job and later developed lung cancer. The asbestos exposure came from the insulation products he used, and from asbestos dust raised by other employees, of which he had no warning.
Resolution:$4.3 million verdict against Mobil Oil Corporation
Economic damages: $2.5 million
Non-economic damages: $319,000
Non-economic damages: to his wife, Hanna, $1.5 million for loss of consortium Mobil Oil was held to be 12.5% responsible for George's illness, for "failure to use reasonable care."
San Francisco – Asbestos Company – $1 Million Asbestos Lung Cancer Verdict
DWIGHT ODLE vs. GASKET HOLDINGS, INC.
July 17 2001,San Francisco Superior Court, Case number: 317966
Description of Case: Flexitallic Gaskets are 50-90% asbestos, but there is still debate over how much of the asbestos is released in normal use.
Resolution:Over $1 million verdict against Flexitallic Gaskets.
Economic damages: $224,645 for Mr. Dwight Odle
Non-economic: $250,000 for Mr. Dwight Odle, $350,000 for Mrs. Pearl Odle. Gasket Holdings was found to be 1.75% responsible for the damages to Dwight and Pearl Odle.
San Francisco – Asbestos Trades – $2,245,000 Million Mesothelioma Verdict
San Francisco Jury Awards $2,245,000 to Bulldozer Driver and his Wife
On March 16, 2005, aSan Franciscojury awarded $2,245,000 to Daniel andVeneisa Johnson ofMarion,North Carolina for an asbestos-caused cancer. Mr. Johnson is dying ofmesothelioma, an incurable asbestos-caused cancer. This is believed to be the first verdict in theUnited States involving asbestos exposure from Caterpillar machinery.
Daniel Johnson is a 58-year-old bulldozer operator fromMarion,North Carolina who was exposed to asbestos from Caterpillar bulldozers while performing brake and other maintenance.
In March, 2004, Daniel Johnson, husband ofVeneisa Johnson, and father of two children, was diagnosed with malignantmesothelioma, a cancerwhose only known cause is asbestos. Mr. Johnson’s prognosis is terminal and his given three to six months to live.
Mr. Johnson filed his lawsuit inSan Francisco on July 15, 2004. In March, 2005, following a two-week jury trial, the jury found that the remaining defendant, Caterpillar, Inc., was responsible, in part, for Daniel Johnson’s cancer. The jury found that Caterpillar’s products were defective and Caterpillar failed to properly warn of asbestos hazards. Daniel Johnson performed brake servicing on Caterpillar bulldozers from 1978 to 1985 while employed as a bulldozer operator.
The jury found that Mr. Johnson suffered $995,000 in lost income and medical expenses and awarded $1 million in pain and suffering. In addition, Mrs. Johnson was awarded $250,000 for loss of her husband’s care, comfort and society.
Plaintiff alleged he was dying frommesothelioma caused by the totality of his asbestos exposure, including from Caterpillar, Inc.’s products. Plaintiff’s alleged exposure occurred as aboilertender in the Navy for four years between 1967 and 1970 aboard the U.S.S. Yorktown and U.S.S. Independence and at Todd Shipyard inSouthern California for several weeks in 1971. From 1976 to 2004, Daniel Johnson was employed as a bulldozer operator inMarion,North Carolina. From 1978 to 1985, he assisted in the maintenance of brakes and the changing of gaskets on three bulldozers on approximately 15 to 20 occasions. Mr. Johnson alleges he was exposed to asbestos during the maintenance of the Caterpillar bulldozers.
Caterpillar alleged that there is no appreciable asbestos exposure during maintenance of such bulldozers. A special study from 2003 was presented to prove that assertion. In addition, Caterpillar presented achrysotile defense. Caterpillar’s position was that the Navy exposure alone caused Mr. Johnson’smesothelioma.
Jury Trial: Daniel Johnson andVeneisa Johnson v. Caterpillar, Inc., et al.
San Francisco Superior Court Case No. 432923
Judge: The Hon. Donald S. Mitchell, Department 602
Rendered: March 16, 2005
Economic Damages: $995,000
Pain and Suffering: $1,000,000
Loss of Consortium: $250,000
Allocations: Caterpillar, Inc.: 5%
All others: 95%
Estimated Judgment after credits: $900,000
Trial testimony: 17 days; Jury deliberations lasted 6 days
Trial commenced February 14, 2005 and concluded March 16, 2005
Plaintiffs’ expert witnesses included:
Richard Cohen, M.D.
Arnold Brody, M.D.
Barry Horn, M.D.
Allan Smith, M.D.
Barry Ben-Zion, Ph.D.
Defendant’s expert witnesses included:
John Spencer, C.I.H.
William Hughson, M.D.
Carolin Shining, Esq.
Paul & Hanley, LLP
1608 Fourth Street, Suite 300
San Francisco – Second Hand Exposure – $11.5 Million Mesothelioma Verdict
San Francisco Jury Returns $11.5 Million VerdictAgainst UNOCAL for Pipefitter's Wife in Gunderson Trial
On December 12, 2002, aSan Franciscojury awarded $11,550,750 to Genevieve Gunderson ofTorrance,California, for a terminal cancer she contracted from her husband's clothing in the 1950s. The verdict against Unocal was on three separate theories of negligence. Ms. Gunderson is dying ofmesothelioma, an incurable asbestos-caused cancer.
Genevieve Gunderson is a 75-year-old homemaker and retired hairdresser fromTorrance,California, who was exposed to asbestos from her former husband, Gordon Fraser's, work as a pipefitter at industrial sites, including Unocal inWilmington,California, from 1948 to 1963.
In October, 2001, Genevieve Gunderson, mother of one adult child, four grandchildren, and several great-grandchildren, was diagnosed withmesothelioma, a cancer caused by exposure to asbestos. Ms. Gunderson's prognosis is terminal and she has been given only months to live.
Ms. Gunderson filed her lawsuit inSan Francisco in March, 2002. In October, 2002, following a three-week jury trial and three days of deliberation, the jury found the remaining defendant, Unocal, 9.3% at fault. Ms. Gunderson was exposed to asbestos in her home when she shook out and laundered her husband's work clothing. Her former husband, Mr. Fraser, worked at the Unocal refinery inWilmington,California, as a pipefitter, intermittently for approximately three years from 1948 to 1963 during their marriage.
The jury found that Ms. Gunderson suffered $550,750 in lost income and medical expenses based upon the expert testimony ofSanta Rosa economist Dr. Barry Ben-Zion andBerkeley pulmonologist Dr. Barry Horn. Ms. Gunderson was also awarded $11 million for her pain and suffering. Evidence was presented that cancers such as Ms. Gunderson's can be caused by relatively low exposures, including dust brought home on workers' clothing. Though largely ignored, the industrial community was well aware of recommendations for providing workers who worked around asbestos and other harmful dust with changing rooms, work clothing, and workplace laundry service.
"This is another chapter in the continuing tragedy created by industry's indifference to worker safety and particularly to asbestos hazards," stated Ms. Gunderson's lawyer, ofBerkeley,California. "Ms. Gunderson is pleased with the jury's decision. While it will not change her terminal condition, it will provide her with some satisfaction that those who caused this problem are being made to take responsibility."
The case was initially filed in March, 2002, against 40 separate defendants, and was advanced to trial quickly because of Ms. Gunderson's terminal condition. Before trial all defendants except Unocal, Chevron, and Fluor Corporation settled. Chevron and Fluor Corporation settled during trial. The total verdict will be reduced by the other parties' settlements. The final judgment against Unocal is estimated to be approximately $1.5 million.
Case Summary: Plaintiff, Genevieve Gunderson, is 75 years old and is dying frommesothelioma. She alleged she contractedmesothelioma from asbestos exposure brought home by her ex-husband from 1948 to 1963. It was undisputed that Ms. Gunderson has an asbestos-causedmesothelioma.
Her ex-husband, Gordon Fraser, was a pipefitter at large industrialsites from 1946 to 1982 throughoutSouthern California. He was married to Ms. Gunderson from 1948 to 1963. During the marriage, he wore his work clothes home and she laundered them twice weekly. He worked at Union Oil (Unocal) on several large construction projects for a total time of approximately three years from 1948 to 1963. These were all new construction projects and his employers were Bechtel and Flour Corporation (both of whom settled during the trial).
Unocal presented both duty and state-of-the-art defenses. Defendant argued it was unforeseeable that before 1960, "take-home" exposures could cause disease. Therefore, they argued no duty as a matter of law (the court denied all motions on this issue). They also argued that they were not negligent. They supported their case with the expert testimony of Dr. William Hughson, a pulmonologist and HowardSpielman, a Certified Industrial Hygienist. Plaintiff responded with state-of-the-art testimony of Dr. BarryCastleman.
The defendant found in plaintiff's favor on three separate theories of ordinary negligence, premises liability, and peculiar risk.
Jury trial: Genevieve J. Gunderson v. A. W. Chesterton Company, et al. San Francisco Superior Court Case No. 406207
Judge: The HonorableTomar Mason, Department 608
Case filed: March 29, 2002
Verdict rendered: December 12, 2002
Total verdict: Total Economic Damages $550,750 Total Non-Economic Damages $11 million
Trial testimony: three weeks; deliberations lasted three days
Trial commenced: November 14, 2002 and concluded December 12, 2002
Allocation: 90.7% to all other defendants; 9.3% to Union Oil Net judgment after settlement verdict and costs approximately $1,485,725
Plaintiff’s experts included: Richard Hatfield, Materials Analyst Specialist, Atlanta, GA Barry R. Horn, M.D., Pulmonologist, Berkeley, CA BarryCastleman, M.D., Medical State of the Art, Baltimore, MD Barry Ben-Zion, Ph.D., Economist, Santa Rosa, CA Kenneth Cohen, C.I.H, Ph.D., El Cajon, CA Allan Smith, M.D., PhD., Epidemiologist, Oakland, CA
Defense experts included: William Hughson, M.D. Pulmonologist,San Diego,CA HowardSpielman, Certified Industrial Hygienist,Los Alamitos,CA
Prior settlement negotiations: Plaintiff served CCP§ 998 offer for $300,000 which was rejected. During the trial plaintiff's last demand was $700,000.
San Francisco – Asbestos Company – $6.5 Million Mesothelioma Verdict
Childhood household exposure to asbestos Jury Awards $6.5 Million
Jeanette Franklin v. USX Corporation (2000)AlamedaCounty Superior Court 816407-0.
Attorneys atKazan, McClain, Abrams, Lyons &Farrise madeU.S. asbestos litigation history with a verdict of $6,500,000 in an asbestos cancer case that arose after childhood household exposure to asbestos.
Jeanette Franklin, the plaintiff, was a little girl in the 1940s when both of her parents worked at USX Corporation's Western Pipe & Steel shipyard inSouthSan Francisco. Her father was a burner (welder) and her mother a ship's carpenter's assistant. Her parents unknowingly carried deadly asbestos fibers home on their clothing, and their young children were exposed.
In March 1999, Jeanette Franklin wasdiagnosed withmesothelioma, an asbestos-caused cancer, and on August 25, 1999, The Firm filed suit on her behalf. By February 2000, the case was settled with almost all of the defendants except USX Corporation. USX is the successor corporation to Western Pipe & Steel shipyard, and refused to offer even $1. The case was tried to an Alameda County, California, jury by Firm principalSimonaFarrise and associate Andrea Huston.
San Francisco – Asbestos Company – $2.1 Million Mesothelioma Verdict
Kaiser Gypsum Inc. Reaches Settlement in Asbestos Case
Wednesday, July 25th, 2007
A plasterer, who worked in and aroundSan Francisco,California for forty-two years, will receive $2.1 million in a recent settlement with Kaiser Gypsum Company and Hanson Permanente Cement, Inc.
The plasterer was diagnosed with mesothelioma in 2006. In the lawsuit, he alleged that asbestos was an ingredient of the stucco and other plaster products he worked with between 1955 and 1997, which were sold by Kaiser Gypsum and Hanson Permanente.
Kaiser Gypsum has been a defendant in several asbestos lawsuits over the past several years. In 1999, a jury inPortland,Oregon, awarded $1.5 million dollars to a formerhod carrier diagnosed with asbestosis and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a form of cancer known to result from asbestos exposure. Evidence in the trial showed that Kaiser management was aware of the health risks associated with asbestos exposure no later than 1965, and possibly as far back as 1952.
The man had worked as ahod carrier between 1956 and 1986.
More recently in May of 2006, aSan Francisco jury awarded a man and his wife $5.9 million after only two days of deliberation. The man, who was not a smoker, was diagnosed with malignantmesothelioma and lung cancer in January of 2005–both of which were attributed tochrysotile asbestos fibers used in the company’s drywall products.
Yet another case was one in which a woman of Dallas County, Texas, sued Kaiser Gypsum over the death of her husband, a former pipefitter who was diagnosed withmesothelioma in January of 2003 and died ten months later. The jury in this case awarded her $650,000 after only seven hours of deliberation.
In their verdict, members of the jury found Kaiser Gypsum 100% liable for the man’s cancer and resultant death. It was determined that Kaiser Gypsum had known of the health risks of asbestos exposure as early as 1972, yet deliberately and maliciously failed to take steps in protecting employees.
Kaiser Gypsum products now known to have contained asbestos include Finishing Compound and Joint Compound, used in drywall installation.
Personal Injury news
San Francisco Transite Plant Worker– $3.4 Million Mesothelioma Verdict
California jury awards $3.4M in asbestos case
By Tooher, Nora
Date: Friday, July 31 2009
ASan Francisco jury deliberated one day before finding a Canadian company liable for exposing a deceased former Johns-Manville Transite plant worker to asbestos.
Richard Worthley Sr., aVietnam veteran, worked in the plant inWaukegan,Illinois. from May 1968 to 1984, when it closed.
to southernCalifornia and worked as a maintenance mechanic and service technician until 2004, when he was diagnosed with mesothelioma, a cancer caused by asbestos exposure.
The defendant in the case, Advocate Mines of Newfoundland,Canada, argued that it had stopped supplying asbestos to the plant 13 months before Worthley began working there, and denied liability for any asbestos exposure.
But Plaintiffs' attorney James Nevin told jurors that Worthley - who held several jobs at the plant as a painter, production planner and millwright - was exposed to dust from raw asbestos fiber on a daily basis.
The fiber he was exposed to was used to make asbestos-cement pipe, and it included fiber supplied by Advocate Mines that remained in the plant, Nevin said.
In addition to being exposed to asbestos by working in the contaminated plant, one of Worthley's jobs was to clean and repair manufacturing and dust-collection equipment in the factory, including the ventilators.
"All those activities exposed Mr. Worthley to asbestos dust, including from Advocate Mines Limited," Nevin said.
Chrysotile safety debated
The two main issues during the six-week trial were whether Worthley was exposed to asbestos dust at the plant, and whether the asbestos from Advocate Mines caused his mesothelioma.
Defense attorney John Graniez argued that there wasn't enough of Advocate Mine's asbestos left in the plant to be harmful by the time Worthley started working there.
"Common sense will tell you that none of Advocate Mine's asbestos could have contributed to that guy's mesothelioma," Graniez said.
A secondary defense argument was that even if a minor amount of Advocate Mine's asbestos was left in the plant, it was a form of asbestos - Chrysotile - that was not as hazardous as other forms.
Both arguments failed.
"The jury wasn't buying any of it," Nevin commented.
Plaintiffs' experts included Kenneth Cohen, an industrial hygienist fromEl Cajon,Calif.; a pulmonatory pathologist, an epidemiologist and an asbestos detection expert.
They all testified that scientific literature andU.S. safety standards "are all very consistent [in stating] that all types of asbestos cause mesothelioma," Nevin said.
Advocate Mines "supplied its defective asbestos fiber without any warnings or any other reasonable care to avoid injuries to others," he added.
In a statement, Nevin said that the plaintiffs "demonstrated to the jury that it was the total dose of asbestos that Mr. Worthley was exposed to at the Johns-Manville plant, including resuspended asbestos fiber from Advocate Mines Limited, that contributed together to cause his mesothelioma and death."
During cross-examination, Nevin confronted defense experts with articles by 52 mainstream scientists confirming that Chrysotile asbestos causes mesothelioma.
On July 22, the 12 jurors unanimously held that Advocate Mines was liable for negligence, defective design and failure to warn. They awarded $877,750 in economic damages and $2.5 million in non-economic damages. However, Advocate Mines was held liable only for 5 percent of Worthley's non-economic damages.
The jury didn't find anyone liable for the other 95 percent. But many other defendants already settled in this case - for both personal injury and wrongful death claims - for a total of $1.5 million. Advocate Mines was the only defendant to go to trial.
UnderCalifornia law, the company is jointly and severally liable for the economic damages, but only liable for its share of fault for the non-economic damages.
That means the judge applied the 5 percent "at fault" determination to the $2.5 million in non-economic damages, making Advocate Mines liable for $125,000 of that amount.
In awarding economic damages, the judge will consider the economic damages awarded at trial, thesettlements from other defendants and Advocate's liability in calculating a figure.
Graniez believes economic damages will amount to about $628,000, for a total award of $753,000, plus costs. Nevin expects the final amount will be closer to $800,000.
"The plaintiffs will never be made completely whole," Nevin said. "This is one of the harsh realities of the legacy of asbestos exposure to American workers. They and their families are rarely fully compensated."
Graniez said that post-trial motions are scheduled for Sept. 11, at which time the judge will determine economic damages.
Plaintiffs' attorney: James Nevin of Brayton & Purcell inNovato,Calif.
Defense attorneys: John Graniez and Suzanne Golden of Lewis Brisbois Bisgaard & Smith inLos Angeles.
The case: Worthley v. Advocate Mines; July 22, 2009; Superior Court,San Francisco,Calif., Judge Tomar Mason.
Credit: Nora Tooher
San Francisco – Asbestos Company - $4.2 Mesothelioma Verdict
Asbestos verdict nets $4.2 million; Award for San Ramon terminal cancer patient is the first involving Bakelite
Tuesday, July 30th, 2002.
By John Simerman, Contra Costa Times
A jury has awarded a $4.2 million verdict to a cancer-stricken San Ramon man and his wife for exposure to asbestos-laden plastics when he worked at the Hunter’s Point Naval Shipyard.
But the man, Victor Trinchese, may see only a fraction of that money, because the jury found Union Carbide only partly at fault.
The 61-year-old Italian immigrant, an electrician at the shipyard from 1969 to 1980, suffers from terminal mesothelioma. The cancer affects the surface linings of the chest or abdominal cavity and has been linked to asbestos exposure.
Trinchese was diagnosed in August; he sued in October, claiming Union Carbide was negligent in manufacturing asbestos-containing Bakelite plastics in switching panels that Trinchese handled on Navy vessels at the shipyard. The company argued that there was no proof that Union Carbide produced the compounds in those panels.
ASan Francisco jury last week found the company 5 percent negligent.
The jury awarded Trinchese $1.6 million in lost income and medical expenses, $1.8 million for pain and suffering and $800,000 to his wife, Francesca, for loss of her husband’s care and comfort. But since the jury held the company only fractionally negligent, and because of earlier settlements with other defendants, the total award may be reduced to $1 million or less.
It is the first time a jury has granted a favorable verdict in a Bakelite case, said Phil Harley, Trinchese’sBerkeley attorney. Trinchese also won $1 million in previous settlements, Harley said.
“It’s a case that opens up new avenues of recovery for electricians, because they use this product all over the place,” Harley said.
Between 2,000 and 3,000 people in theUnited States are diagnosed each year with mesothelioma, according to the American Cancer Society. Average survival is about a year.
Doctors removed the lining of Trinchese’s left lung last year. The cancer has metastasized to his heart and right lung, Harley said.
Union Carbide completed a merger with the Dow Chemical Company in January 2001. John Brydon, Union Carbide’s attorney in the case, said he would appeal the verdict.
“We did not think there was ample evidence that he ever actually worked with a product made with the material that was produced by Union Carbide,” Brydon said.
Brydon said many companies would buy the Bakelite material in a molding compound or resin and then “add things to it, like asbestos.”
“We don’t really know what product he worked with,” Brydon said.
Bakelite was a revolutionary plastic in the 1920s, ’30s and ’40s. Union Carbide acquired it in 1939. Not all Bakelite contains asbestos, but Harley said the switching panels that Trinchese handled were a mixture of the plastic and as much as 50 percent asbestos.
Trinchese came to theUnited States in 1967 fromNola,Italy, a small town nearNaples. After working in the shipyard, he was an electrician for thePort ofOakland until his diagnosis. He moved to San Ramon nine years ago.
“He walks with his dog, tries to keep his mind off things,” said his son, Saverio Trinchese. “The money’s nothing. He doesn’t care. He wants his health back. He wants to be what he used to be.”
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San Francisco - $33 Mesothelioma Verdict
Asbestos Suit Brings $33-Million Jury Award
April 04, 2002|LISA GIRION, TIMES STAFF WRITER
In what is believed to be a record asbestos injury verdict inCalifornia, aSan Francisco jury has awarded $33.7 million in a case involving a 60-year-old former electrician with a rare and incurable form of cancer.
Alfred Todak blamed his cancer on his exposure to asbestos on several jobs from 1960 to 1976, including work around insulation and boilers aboard Navy ships and around joint compound on construction sites.
In November 2000, almost 25 years after Todak quit the electrical trade to become an international nursing recruiter, he sought treatment for shoulder pain and learned that he had mesothelioma, a cancer caused by asbestos exposure.
Mesothelioma, which most commonly begins in the lining of the lung, usually is discovered 15 to 40 years after initial exposure.
"This was a recognition of how terrible a disease this is and how really unfair it is to a guy like Mr. Todak," Gilbert Purcell, his lawyer, said Wednesday. "It's a recognition that people are still getting ill ... that we are not out of the woods for people who had exposures into the '70s."
Todak and his wife, Stephanie, sued more than 25 firms with ties to products that contained asbestos and to which he believes he was exposed. The award includes $22.7million for Todak's pain, suffering and loss of income and $11million for his wife's associated losses.
The Todaks will not receive the entire award, even if it withstands appeal, because 18 firms settled for a total of $4.2 million before the verdict, most of them before trial.
Foster Wheeler Ltd., the last defendant remaining when the case went to the jury, was held liable for 30% of the total verdict, or $10.6 million. TheNew Jersey design, engineering and construction firm said it will appeal the verdict. The company said Todak failed to present credible evidence that he was exposed to one of the company's naval boilers, as he had charged.
The largest jury verdict in a single-victim asbestos case came last August. ATexas jury awarded $55.5 million to a former home-building worker who blamed his mesothelioma on the asbestos in a Kelly-Moore Paint Co. joint compound he was exposed to on construction sites in the 1970s.
InCalifornia, the previous record verdict was $20.5 million awarded a year ago to a man who blamed his mesothelioma on a career in aStockton plant that made pipe containing asbestos.
A fire-retardant mineral fiber prized as a cheap source of insulation and filler, asbestos has been used in thousands of products, from floor tiles to automotive brakes. More than 550,000 lawsuits have been filed since the 1970s against companies that made, used or sold asbestos or products that contained it, contributing to the bankruptcies of more than 50 firms.
The Todak decision was the first against Foster Wheeler, which has attempted to settle claims where victims show evidence of injury and exposure to a company product. It has fought claims from people who are not sick or cannot prove exposure.
Through the end of 2001, more than 300,000 claims against the company had been closed without payment, and 220,000 had been settled, a company spokesman said. Foster Wheeler had 110,000 claims pending at the end of the year.
Among the companies that settled with Todak was Viacom Inc., which picked up its asbestos liabilities through its acquisition of the former Westinghouse Corp. Viacom agreed to pay Todak $1 million. The entertainment giant spent $21 million on asbestos settlements and defense last year and disposed of about 60,000 claims, according to its latest annual report. Viacom had 106,000 claims pending at the end of 2001.
San Francisco - $ 5.9 Million Mesothelioma Verdict
RobertJohnsen vs. Kaiser Gypsum
San Francisco Jury Awards $5,900,000 toPeninsula Executive
On May 18, 2006, aSan Francisco jury awarded $5,900,000 to RobertJohnsen ofSunnyvale,California for asbestos-related cancers. The verdict against Kaiser Gypsum Company, Inc., a company that made asbestos-containing drywall products, is one of the largest ever in such a case.
RobertJohnsen was a 74-year old high-tech business executive who, at the time of his diagnosis, was working with Zero-G, a Cupertino, California-based company offering zero gravity (weightless) flights.
Mr.Johnsen was exposed to Kaiser Gypsum’s asbestos products when he remodeled his homes inColorado during the 1960’s and when he supervised the building of his home and office for his employer inCalifornia during the 1970’s.
In January 2005, Mr.Johnsen was diagnosed with malignantmesothelioma and lung cancer (two separate cancers). Mr.Johnsen was a lifelong non-smoker. At that time his prognosis was determined to be terminal and he was given a six-month life expectancy. He died in March 2007 at the age of 75.
Mr.Johnsen filed his lawsuit on July 11, 2005, naming several defendants. On May 18, 2006, the twelve-person jury found that the remaining defendant, Kaiser Gypsum, was responsible, in part, for RobertJohnsen’s cancers. The jury found that Kaiser Gypsum’s products were defective. Mr.Johnsen personally used Kaiser Gypsum’s products from 1956 to 1970 during which time he undertook five to six home and basement remodels for himself and others.
The jury found that Mr.Johnsen suffered $940,000 in lost income and medical expenses and awarded $5,000,000 in pain and suffering. Plaintiff’s expert witnesses included Dr. Barry Horn, apulmonologist from Berkeley, California; Dr. Richard Cohen, a physician who testified regarding the state-of-the-art, from Saratoga, California; Dr. Jerrold Abraham, a pathologist from Syracuse, New York; Dr. Arnold Brody, a cellular biologist from Tulane University in New Orleans; Richard Hatfield, an industrial hygienist and materials analyst from Suwannee, Georgia; Dr. Allan Smith, an epidemiologist from Berkeley, California, and Dr. Barry Ben-Zion, an economist from Santa Rosa, California.
Defense expert witnesses included Dr. William Hughson, apulmonologist and epidemiologist from San Diego, California; Dr. Gerald Meyers, apulmonologist from Berkeley, California; Dr. Douglas Fowler, a Certified Industrial Hygienist from Redwood City, California; Dr. Arthur Langer, a mineralogist from Brooklyn, New York; Dr. John Craighead, a pathologist fromFerrisburg, Vermont, and Edward vanderBogert, a construction management and safety expert from Lynnwood, Washington.
San Francisco – $9 Million Dollar Asbestos Wrongful Death Verdict
On November 19, 2008, aSan Francisco jury awarded a total of $9,057,775 to the widow, sons and daughter of two pipefitters who died of an asbestos cancer. The jury rendered their verdict against Plant Insulation Company, formerly known as Plant Asbestos Company.
Jolene Mudgett, the daughter of Joseph Sandra, was awarded $1,250,000 for the death of her father, who succumbed to mesothelioma, a cancer of the lining of the lungswhose only established caused is that of inhaled exposure to asbestos fibers. Mr. Sandra was 87 years old at the time of his death. Mr. Sandra is survived by his daughter, Jolene Mudgett, his son, John Sandra, and his wife, Molly Sandra.
Plant Insulation Company was theNorthern California exclusive supplier of asbestos-containing pipecover, block and asbestos cement products, made by Fiberboard Corporation, known as "Pabco." Plant Insulation Company was a major industrial insulating contractor that exposed Mr. Sandra at a number of bay area oil refineries from 1955 to 1975. The jury found that Plant Insulation Company was found liable for failing to warn Mr. Sandra about the unsafe insulation products he was exposed to. Plant Insulation company was found to be 18% at fault, with other manufacturers, distributors and suppliers of asbestos products, who were not present at the trial, found to be 82% at fault in causing Mr. Sandra's mesothelioma. Co-worker and eye-witness James Szuch testified for the Plaintiffs.
Franklin Yancey died of mesothelioma at the age of 68 at theUniversity ofTexas,M.D.AndersonCancerCenter, inHouston,Texas. He was survived by his wife of 25 years, Janice Yancey, and two adult sons, Jeff Yancey and Monte Yancey. The jury awarded $7,807,775 in damages. Mr. Yancey worked atSan Francisco oil refineries in the bay area in the 1960s, and his two adult sons followed in the footsteps of their father. Mr. Yancey's co-worker and eye-witness, Vern Gosney, testified for the Yancey family. Plant Insulation company was found to be 10% at fault, with other manufacturers, distributors and suppliers of asbestos products, who were not present at the trial, found to be 90% at fault in causing Mr. Sandra's mesothelioma.
Plaintiff's expert witnesses included Charles Ay, a career insulator and pipefitter, Dr. Barry Horn, a pulmonologist from Berkeley, California; Dr. Richard Cohen, a physician who testified regarding the state-of-the-art, from Saratoga, California; Dr. Brian Dolan, a Southern California internist; John Templin, an industrial hygienist and materials analyst from Long Beach, California; Dr. Allan Smith, an epidemiologist from Berkeley, California, and Dr. Barry Ben-Zion, an economist from Santa Rosa, California.