Los Angeles, CA – An appeals court in California has upheld a jury verdict by a LA County Superior Court jury in an asbestos lawsuit filed on behalf of a commercial plumber.
Hon. Walter Croskey, the justice of the California 2nd Dist. Court of Appeals, delivered the opinion on 21st February, affirming the verdict of in excess of $6.5M in non-economic and $398635 in economic damages. The justice denied the request of defendant Crane Company for an additional setoff for adjusting for future settlements.
Justice Richard D Aldrich and Joan Klein concurred with Walter Croskey.
The suit was filed on behalf of deceased William Paulus, a mesothelioma victim. Other defendants had reached settlements with the plaintiff for $5150000 in total. When the court reached its judgement, it had to allocate the legal responsibility among 46 different companies. As all the other companies had reached out-of-court settlements, Crane Company was assigned 10 percent liability for the plaintiff’s damages.
The court concluded that Crane Company was negligent in causing William Paulus to develop the deadly cancer.
The suit states that Paulus was a plumber who regularly worked with Crane Company and dealt with valves and gaskets containing asbestos. Studies have found that regular exposure to asbestos and products containing the substance could result in terminal diseases such as mesothelioma.
The plaintiffs argued that Crane Company as partly responsible for the tragic death of Paulus. During the court trial, one of his colleagues testified that Paulus used Cranite and Garlock asbestos-containing products in the 1960s and 70s for hammering out flange gaskets and bonnet gaskets for keeping the valves water-tight.
William Paulus made asbestos-containing gaskets for almost all jobs he carried out and generally used Cranite more than Garlock.
As a result of his continuous occupational exposure to asbestos products, Paulus developed malignant mesothelioma, a fatal cancer of the mesothelium, according to the suit. William Paulus was not aware of the risks involved in handling asbestos products and the defendants never warned him regarding the hazards either, the plaintiffs claimed. Exposure mainly took place when he attached the valves to pipes by welding together and binding them to the flange gaskets, the suit indicates. Paulus died shortly after his mesothelioma diagnosis.
Mesothelioma is often detected several decades after the victim’s initial exposure to asbestos fibres. However, once appeared, it kills the victims typically within a year.