A $12 million verdict in favor of asbestos plaintiffs in a consolidated case was recently affirmed by the New York Supreme Court’s Appellate Division, which determined the trial court’s allocation of liability to the defendants was proper.
Our mesothelioma attorneys understand there were originally 10 cases consolidated in In re: New York City Asbestos Litigation. Of those, three involved individuals who developed lung cancer as a result of breathing in asbestos fibers, and seven involved mesothelioma victims. Of those seven, five reached a settlement with the defendants, Crane Co. and Tishman Liquidating Corporation (TLC), prior to the trial. Those remaining two cases went to trial, where the plaintiffs prevailed. The appellate court affirmed that ruling.
According to court records in the case, the first plaintiff was the widow of a man who died of mesothelioma in 2012, little more than two years after he was diagnosed with the terminal cancer caused by asbestos exposure.
The disease is latent, meaning symptoms don’t reveal themselves until many years, often decades later. In this first case, the decedent worked for four years in the mid-1970s as a construction worker in Manhattan for general contractor TLC. In doing so, he worked closely with other contractors who routinely sanded a joint compound that contained asbestos, causing the dust to be scattered throughout the immediate vicinity.
Evidence presented by the plaintiff showed the general contractor knew about the risks of working with asbestos as early as the late 1960s, well before the decedent was employed there. Despite knowing these risks, the company did nothing to shield workers from the dangers, the plaintiff argued.
In addition to his work at the construction site, there was evidence that he worked as a gas station attendant before landing the construction job. In that capacity, he sanded asbestos-containing brake pads made by a company called Bendix Corporation. That firm, however, was not named on the verdict sheet produced by the jury.
He and later his wife alleged that TLC was negligent in controlling and supervising the drywall work, and that additional exposure resulted from power sweeping work carried out by other employees.
In the second case, the plaintiff served in the U.S. Navy for 17 years, starting in 1960. In the course of his work, he acted as a boiler technician on numerous vessels. Portions of his job required him to work in poorly ventilated boiler rooms with packing material and gaskets that contained asbestos.
Thirty-three years after he completed that work, he was diagnosed with mesothelioma. He and his wife asserted that Crane Co., the manufacturer of those products, failed to warn him of the risks associated with use of those products.
Trial in those cases spanned six weeks, after which TLC was found to be 76 percent liable for the first worker’s injuries (with other defendants in the case sharing the rest), while Crane Co. was found to be 99 percent liable for the second worker’s injuries.
The first worker was awarded nearly $20 million for pain and suffering and approximately $500,000 for lost wages. The second worker was awarded a total of $32 million. The jury indicated in both cases the companies acted recklessly.
Both defendants took the matter before the appellate court. For TLC’s part, attorneys argued the cases should never have been consolidated and that the evidence failed to support a finding of recklessness and that the damages were not reasonable. The court did eventually agree to reduce the damages by half to $8 million.
In the second case, damages were reduced to $4.4 million.
Help for mesothelioma victims can be found at The Ferraro Law Firm by calling 1-800-275-3332. Offices in Miami and Washington, D.C.
N.Y. appellate court affirms $12M jury verdict in consolidated asbestos cases, July 10, 2014, By Heather Isringhausen Gvillo, Legal Newsline
In re: New York City Asbestos Litigation, July 3, 2014, New York State Supreme Court Appellate Division
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