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$10 Million Verdict in Mesothelioma Case for Pipefitter

CertainTeed Corp. Misrepresented and Concealed the Health Risks of Handling and Working with its Product

Mr. Michael Burch was diagnosed with pleural mesothelioma in May of 2016 when he was 64 years old. A lifelong California resident, he and his wife Cindy raised four daughters and have four grandchildren.

Mr. Burch was exposed to asbestos in the 1970s when he worked as a pipefitter handling asbestos cement (AC) pipe manufactured by CertainTeed. His work involved cutting and beveling AC pipe using various hand tools and a 12-inch abrasive disc saw, which created extremely dusty working conditions. The dust contained the cancer-causing mineral asbestos. Day after day, he unknowingly breathed deadly asbestos dust at work and was never warned that the dust could cause him to contract the incurable disease mesothelioma.

A member of the Laborer’s Union Local 220 and the plumbers and pipefitters union Local 403, Mr. Burch performed underground utility work on water mains, sewer mains, laterals, and gas lines. He worked in mobile home parks in towns throughout California, including mobile home parks in Hayward, Sunnyvale, San Jose, Morgan Hill, Gilroy, Cambria, San Luis Obispo, Pismo Beach, Paso Robles, Valencia, Carson, and Corcoran.

Mr. Burch’s symptoms started with pressure in his chest and shortness of breath. Soon the act of eating intensified his chest pain, and he began to lose weight. Doctors discovered excess fluid around his lungs, and following a biopsy, he was diagnosed with pleural mesothelioma.

Kazan Law represented Mr. Burch and obtained a $10 million mesothelioma verdict in a personal injury case against CertainTeed Corporation. The jury found the Company knew the health risks of its product but failed to warn of those risks, and fraudulently misrepresented and intentionally concealed the health risks.

The jury heard evidence that CertainTeed was aware asbestos caused cancer as early as 1962, but did not begin warning about cancer hazards on its pipe until 1985. On the contrary, CertainTeed advertised that its pipe was a “nonharmful use of asbestos” despite its knowledge that this was false.

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