Mesothelioma Legal News: Puget Sound Naval Shipyard
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Puget Sound Naval – Asbestos Exposure – $12.1 Million Mesothelioma Award
U.S. Navy Machinist's Mate Awarded $12.1M in 1960s Asbestos-Exposure Case
Posted May 12th, 2009 bymarketnet
LOS ANGELES - May 11, 2009 - AnLA County jury has awarded$12.1 million to a U.S. Navy serviceman who was exposed to asbestos during a single tour of duty in the early 1960s.
The plaintiff in the case is Charles H.Cundiff, a 66-year-old retiredtruck driver who is terminally ill withmalignant pleuralmesothelioma. Mesothelioma is an insidious disease with asingel known cause: asbestos exposure. Mr.Cundiff's exposure occurred during his time as amachinist's mate aboard theUSS Kitty Hawk from 1962 to 1966.
The verdict was announced on May 6, after five days of jury deliberation. Mr.Cundiff wasawarded $10 million for pain and suffering and $506,000 in economic damages for lost wages. His wife, Glenda "Joyce"Cundiff, wasawarded $1.5 million for loss of consortium.
The jury foundmanufacturer John Crane, Inc. and supplier Lone Star Industries liable for both defective products and failure to warn.John Crane was assessed 5 percent liability;Lone Star was assigned 19 percent.
Lead trial attorney Gary M. Paul called the verdict notable, saying, "Today's verdict, right on the heels of theHaupt verdict, demonstrates that theTaylor decision does not result in justice being denied to the asbestos-exposed plaintiff. On the contrary, the jury found fault with both manufacturer and supplier, and not just for defective product, but also for failure to warn. This demonstrates that a strong case with clear product ID can extend the scope of responsibility to all vendors in the supply chain, including third parties, who knowingly provide harmful products to unsuspecting consumers."
The decision by theCalifornia Court of Appeal in Taylor vs.Crane Co. releases manufacturers from a duty to warn of thedangers of asbestos-containing components used in their products if those subcomponents are manufactured or supplied by a third party.
Mr.Cundiff was too ill to take the witness stand. His testimony was presented viadepostion, in which he detailed his work aboard theUSS Kitty Hawk during a four year tour of duty which included a nine month overhaul in thePuget Sound Naval
Shipyard. This work involved cleaning, repairing and replacingvalves,pumps,gaskets,packings and the use ofInsulag insulating cement in the No. 2 and No. 4engine rooms. It was dirty and dusty work that generated large amounts ofasbestos dust that he breathed with no protection.
The close-up work allowed him to recall product brand names stamped into the components.John Crane Inc. was among the product names he encountered. He also recalled seeing trucks with thePioneer Sand & Gravel name pulling into thePuget Sound Naval Shipyard carrying bags ofInsulag. Pioneer, a predecessor ofLone Star Industries, was a supplier ofInsulag, anindustrial insulation product used widely at the time.
The defense attempted to discredit Mr.Cundiff by asserting thatInsulag was not used in the overhaul of theKitty Hawk, and in fact, was not among the approved products that appeared on the Qualified Products List - or QPL - published by the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD). In addition, the defense claimed, hadInsulag been delivered to the site, it would not have been delivered in the manner described by Mr.Cundiff.
The testimony proved otherwise. During cross-examination, defense expert Thomas McCaffrey admitted that, in fact, there was noDoD Qualified Products List in existence at the time of Mr.Cundiff's service. Additionally, a rebuttal witness - who worked at theshipyard for nearly two decades and had not known Mr.Cundiff - corroborated thesailor's recollection of the manner in which theInsulag product was used, as well as deliveries toPuget Sound Naval Shipyard by Pioneer trucks.
WKP partner MikeArmitage commented, "Mr.Cundiff's recollection of brands and suppliers was sharp, honest, and in the end, indisputable. CharlesCundiff'sintergrity won the day. His courage and tenacity give hope to otherNavy families facing the deadly course ofmesothelioma due to asbestos exposure."
About Waters Kraus & Paul
Waters Kraus & Paul is the West Coast practice of Waters & Kraus, LLP - a nationally recognized plaintiffs' firm concentrating on complex product liability and personal injury/wrongful death cases,particulary asbestos-mesothelioma. In addition to toxic tort litigation, the firm's diverse practice includes pharmaceutical productliabilty, negligence, elder financial abuse, and consumer product liability, as well as qui tam (whistle-blower) and commercial litigation. With offices in California, Texas, and Maryland, Waters & Kraus has litigated cases in jurisdictions across the United States on behalf of individuals from all 50 states, as well as foreign governments.
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