California Mesothelioma Overview
California was admitted to the United States in September 1850 as the 31st state in the union. California is the 3rd largest state. The first Europeans to explore California arrived in the 1500’s. Spanish missionaries arrived in California in the 1700s. The settlement of California grew rapidly after the discovery of gold at Sutter’s Creek in 1848, quadrupling in size during the gold rush years. Today, that entrepreneurial spirit carries on. California has the largest economy in the United States at over three trillion-dollar in gross state product. If California were an independent nation it would rank as the world’s fifth largest economy.
The following are the 10 largest cities in California with their 2018 population:
- Los Angeles: 3,990,456
- San Diego: 1,425,976
- San Jose: 1,030,119
- San Francisco: 883,305
- Fresno: 530,093
- Sacramento: 508,529
- Long Beach: 467,354
- Oakland: 429,082
- Bakerfield: 383,579
- Anaheim: 352,005
The capital of California is Sacramento.
About one-half of the land in California is federally owned. There are nine National parks in California, including Yosemite, Death Valley, Kings Canyon, Sequoia and Joshua Tree, and dozens of state and regional parks.
California feeds the nation and leads the U.S. in agricultural production, growing over a third of the country’s vegetables and two-thirds of the country’s fruits and nuts. In addition to California’s natural wonders, tourists from all over the world come to visit Hollywood, Disneyland and other theme parks, the Wine Country and the Golden Gate Bridge. The innovation of California’s Silicon Valley has transformed the way the world communicates and processes information and has impacted every aspect of our lives.
California is divided into 58 counties:
- Contra Costa
- Del Norte
- El Dorado
- Los Angeles
- San Benito
- San Bernardino
- San Diego
- San Francisco
- San Joaquin
- San Luis Obispo
- San Mateo
- Santa Barbara
- Santa Clara
- Santa Cruz
Cities in California with high rates of historical asbestos exposure for workers:
- Angels Camp
- Costa Mesa
- Crescent City
- El Cerrito
- Fort Bragg
- King City
- Long Beach
- Los Angeles
- Newport Beach
- Palm Springs
- San Diego
- San Francisco
- San Jose
- San Leandro
- San Luis Obispo
- San Pablo
- Santa Cruz
- Santa Rosa
- Union City
- Walnut Creek
History of Asbestos Exposure in California
California has historically been at the forefront of issues surrounding asbestos, from the mining of the mineral and production of asbestos products to the inevitable asbestos exposure and resulting diseases in people – and as a pioneer in the development of legal issues and remedies for those victims.
Asbestos occurs widely in California and has been reported in 41 of California’s 58 counties. In the early 1880s, asbestos deposits were found in Butte, San Bernardino, San Diego, Calaveras, Placer, Fresno, Los Angeles, Tulare, Mariposa, Shasta, Yolo, Inyo, and Del Norte Counties. Additionally, talc deposits found in the Death Valley region have been found to contain tremolite asbestos. By 1883, the United Asbestos Manufacturing Company had incorporated in San Francisco to mine, manufacture, and market asbestos products.
In California, and across America, the Industrial revolution saw an increase in asbestos mining, milling and consumption. Rapid industrial expansion during World War II led to the accelerated use of asbestos, especially in shipyards.
During the war years, 4.5 million men and women worked in shipyard occupations as insulators, shipfitters, machinists, pipefitters, electricians, boilermakers and painters that left them, and potentially their families exposed to asbestos. California shipyards included:
- Consolidated Steel Shipyard – Long Beach and Wilmington, Los Angeles County
- National Steel and Shipbuilding Company – San Diego, San Diego County
- Hunters Point Naval Shipyard – San Francisco, San Francisco County
- Kaiser Shipyards – Richmond, Contra Costa County
- Mare Island Naval Yard – Vallejo, Solano County
- MarinShip – Sausalito, Marin County
- Moore Dry Dock – Oakland, Alameda County
- San Diego Naval Shipyard – San Diego, San Diego County
- Long Beach Naval Shipyard – Long Beach, Los Angeles County
- Todd Pacific Shipyards – Los Angeles, Los Angeles County
Since the beginning of the 20th century, construction and manufacturing industries have used an estimated 30,000,000 tons of asbestos.
The boom in construction following the return of the “Greatest Generation” after World War II resulted in renewed interest in California asbestos. Factories were developed to produce asbestos-cement construction materials, insulation materials, and composition flooring and roofing. By the mid 1960’s, four new asbestos mills were constructed to meet the growing demand for asbestos in California, in Calaveras County, Fresno County, and San Benito County.
This expansion was fed by the movement of commerce on the nation’s rail system. Major railroads including Southern Pacific had many active railyards in California – including Sacramento, Oakland, Los Angeles, and more – where many asbestos products were used and exposed countless workers.
Construction materials factories included:
- California Zonolite: Glendale, Los Angeles County
- CertainTeed Pipe: Santa Clara, Santa Clara County; Riverside, Riverside County
- CertainTeed Roofing: Richmond, Contra Costa County
- Fibreboard: Redwood City, San Mateo County
- Flintkote: Vernon, Los Angeles County
- Hamilton Materials: Orange, Orange County
- Johns Manville: Stockton, San Joaquin County; Pittsburg, Contra Costa County; Redwood City, San Mateo County; Long Beach, Los Angeles County
- Kaiser Gypsum: Antioch, Contra Costa County; Redwood City, San Mateo County; Santa Ana, Orange County
- Owens Corning: San Francisco, San Francisco County
- Pabco: Emeryville, Alameda County
Additionally, many factories and industries were built during this post war period to support the growing population. This new construction relied heavily on asbestos containing products:
- Aerojet: Rancho Cordova, Sacramento County
- Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART): All locations, Contra Costa, Alameda, San Francisco Counties
- Caterpillar Tractor: San Leandro, Alameda County
- Dow Chemical: Antioch, Contra Costa County
- Dupont: Antioch, Contra Costa County
- Exxon: Benicia, Solano County
- General Motors: Fremont, Alameda County
- General Petroleum/Mobil Oil: Torrance, Los Angeles County
- Kaiser Steel, Napa: Fontana, San Bernardino County
- Pacific Gas & Electric: various power plant/nuclear plants throughout Northern California
- Phillips 66/Tidewater/Associated/Tosco Oil: Avon, Contra Costa County
- Shell Oil: Martinez, Contra Costa County; Carson, Los Angeles County
- Shell Chemical: Martinez, Contra Costa County; Torrance, Los Angeles County
- Southern California Edison: various power plant/nuclear plants throughout Southern California
- Standard Oil/Chevron: Richmond, Contra Costa County; El Segundo, Los Angeles County
- United States Steel: Pittsburg, Contra Costa County
Food products and general consumer goods also relied on asbestos products in their buildings and their processing machinery:
- C & H Sugar: Crockett, Contra Costa County
- Campbell’s Soup: Sacramento, Sacramento County
- Crown Zellerbach: Antioch, Contra Costa County
- Del Monte Foods: San Jose, Santa Clara County; Manteca, San Joaquin County
- Heinz: Watsonville, Santa Cruz County
- Hershey’s: Oakdale, Stanislaus County
- Hunt Wesson: Davis, Yolo County
- Spreckels Sugar: Salinas, Monterey County; Woodland, Yolo County; Manteca, San Joaquin County; Mendota, Fresno County
- Simpson Paper Mill: Anderson, Shasta County
- Stokley-Van Kamp: Lodi, San Joaquin County
- Varian: Palo Alto, Santa Clara County; Walnut Creek, Contra Costa County
Asbestos has not been mined in the United States since the King City Asbestos Company mine in California’s San Benito County closed in 2002.
In 1978, the National Cancer Institute estimated that over 37,000 persons were employed in the manufacture of primary asbestos products, 300,000 worked in secondary asbestos industries, 18,000 in shipyards, and nearly 2,000,000 worked in automotive service and repair.
General Historical Legal Timeline Regarding Asbestos in CA
- 1828 – A patent for steam-engine insulation using asbestos is widely believed to the first asbestos patent issued in the United States.
- 1918 – An insurance statistician working for Prudential Life reports in a Department of Labor Bulletin that American life insurance companies deny coverage to asbestos workers because of the “assumed health-injurious conditions of the industry.”
- 1922 – In the “Instructions to Medical Officers (Notes on Preventive Medicine for Medical Officers, United States Navy),” asbestos is listed as a dust that could cause pulmonary disease, acknowledging the health hazards associated with asbestos dust and advocating the use of protective measures to prevent exposure.
- 1936 – Exposure to Asbestos and other dusts regulated by “Dust, Fumes, Vapors and Gases Safety Orders,” Industrial Accident Commission of the State of California
- 1940 – The earliest located compensation claim by an insulation worker in general industry was Henry Moore in California. He worked for Johns-Manville distributor Western Asbestos and was compensated for asbestosis in 1940.
- 1970 – Clean Air Act passed, giving the EPA responsibility for the nation’s air quality including provisions for the EPA to set national emission standards for hazardous air pollutants, including asbestos.
- 1974 – Safe Drinking Water Act passed, requiring the Environmental Protection Agency to set an a maximum contaminant level for asbestos
- 1974 – Attorney Steven Kazan files a groundbreaking civil lawsuit on behalf of Reba Rudkin, who developed asbestosis after working 29 years at the Johns-Manville asbestos plant in Pittsburg, Contra Costa County, California.
- 1976 – The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) list asbestos as a carcinogen.
- 1976 – Congress passes the Toxic Substances Control Act of 1976, which limits the manufacture, processing, commercial distribution, use, and disposal of chemical substances including asbestos.
- 1983 – Iceland becomes the first country in the world to ban asbestos.
- 1981 – Attorney Steven Kazan tries the case of Bob Speake. Historian Paul Brodeur has written that this case marked a “threshold in asbestos litigation” for the basic ethical reason that “Johns-Manville was finally and for the first time on trial for essential wrongdoing committed by its officials for half a century in covering up the asbestos health hazard.”
- 1986 – Title II of TSCA, the Asbestos Hazard Emergency Response Act (AHERA), was enacted, requiring the Environmental Protection Agency to set standards for responding to the presence of asbestos in schools.
- 1988 – Asbestos Information Act requires manufacturers of certain types of asbestos-containing products to report production to the Environmental Protection Agency
- 1990 – Kazan Law establishes itself as a leader in formulating workers’ compensation law involving occupational diseases in California in Steele v. Chevron, Inc. Mr. Steele was originally diagnosed with a mild form of asbestos disease but later came down with mesothelioma. The court ruled that the same asbestos exposure can give rise to separate and different asbestos-related injuries and disabilities.
- 1999 – Collegium Ramazzini calls for a global ban on the mining and use of asbestos.
- 2002 – The last asbestos mine in California, San Benito County, closes.
- Today – Over 60 countries have banned asbestos – but the USA still has not.
Facts and Figures About Asbestos and Mesothelioma in California
California is still dealing with the tragic medical effects of the past decades of asbestos exposure in the state. About 300 Californians die each year from mesothelioma, and many more suffer other asbestos-related diseases and deaths. According to the California Cancer Registry, in 2017, there were 330 cases of mesothelioma in California. Between 2007-2017, there were 3,572 mesothelioma cases in California. The Environmental Work Group (EWG) estimates that between 1999-2017 there were 27,080 asbestos related deaths in California from mesothelioma, asbestos-related lung cancer, and asbestosis.
Noteworthy Legal Challenges and Resolutions in CA Regarding Kazan Law’s Expertise in California Asbestos Litigation
In 1974, Steven Kazan formed his own law firm and filed suit on behalf of Reba Rudkin, who had developed a after working for 29 years at the Johns-Manville plant in Pittsburg, Contra Costa County, California. Following this case, Kazan went on to represent over one hundred Asbestos-affected workers from Johns-Manville plants.
In 1982, Kazan won a $150,000 verdict for Bob Speake, one of the workers from the Johns-Manville plant in Pittsburg. Mr. Speake’s case is regarded as a “threshold verdict” because it created the opportunity for punitive damage verdicts against Johns-Manville. Kazan eventually had 393 cases pending against the company. [ Six months after the Speake verdict, Johns-Manville filed for bankruptcy, one of the first companies to do so as a result of asbestos litigation.
Starting in 2000, Steven Kazan was actively involved in working with plaintiffs and defendants in developing a comprehensive solution to compensate the plaintiffs and prevent the companies from bankruptcy.
Mr. Kazan has been nominated by the U.S. Trustee and appointed by the U.S. Bankruptcy Court to serve as a member or as counsel to victim members on almost all asbestos bankruptcy reorganizations, including Amatex, Carey Canada, Celotex, H.K. Porter, Babcock & Wilcox, Armstrong World Industries (AWI), W.R. Grace, North American Refractories Company (NARCO), Federal-Mogul, Kaiser Aluminum, Global Technologies (GIT), ACandS, ARTRA, Owens Corning/Fibreboard, Plibrico, T&N, U.S. Gypsum, Combustion Engineering, the Muralo Company, Congoleum, Flintkote Company, Special Electric, ABB Lummus Global, T H Agriculture & Nutrition (THAN), Leslie Controls, Garlock, General Motors, the Budd Company, DII, Energy Future Holdings (EECI/Ebasco), Pittsburgh Corning Trust (PCC), Bestwall (formerly Georgia Pacific), and Thomas Dee Engineering. For Bestwall and Thomas Dee Engineering, Mr. Kazan serves as the Asbestos Creditors’ Committee (ACC) Chair. For Garlock, he is Co-chair of the ACC.
In almost all cases where the bankruptcy reorganization is approved, Mr. Kazan has been approved by the Federal Court to serve as a member of The Trustees’ Advisory Committee (TAC) to work with The Trust on behalf of asbestos victims. For Leslie Controls, ABB Lummus, and Combustion Engineering, Mr. Kazan serves as TAC Chair. For the Kaiser Aluminum and NARCO Trust Advisory Committees, he is Co-chair.
Noteworthy California Mesothelioma Verdicts / Settlements
$117,000,000 Mesothelioma Verdict for Lifelong User of Johnson & Johnson Baby Powder
2018, a jury in New Brunswick, New Jersey awarded $117 million against Johnson
& Johnson Consumer, Inc. and its talc supplier Imerys Talc America, Inc.
for a plaintiff’s asbestos cancer, mesothelioma. The plaintiff was a lifelong
user of Johnson’s Baby Powder. This historic victory proved by means of Johnson
& Johnson’s confidential internal documents that is Baby Powder contained
asbestos, and Johnson & Johnson had been aware of this problem since the
$32,800,000 Mesothelioma Verdict for Former Machinist
one-month trial, a Los Angeles, California jury returned a mesothelioma verdict
which found American Optical Corporation substantially responsible for the
plaintiff developing mesothelioma. The jury also found that American Optical
Corporation acted with malice, fraud or oppression, determining the respiratory
equipment manufacturer knew its product couldn’t prevent dangerous asbestos
exposure and hid that fact from purchasers.
$29,500,000 Mesothelioma Verdict for User of Johnson & Johnson Baby Powder
In a recent
case based on a woman’s claim that Johnson’s Baby Powder – used as a base for
makeup and dry shampoo – caused her mesothelioma, a jury in Northern California
handed down a $29.5 million verdict against Johnson & Johnson, makers of
the iconic baby powder. This is the second major verdict win against Johnson
& Johnson obtained by lead trial attorney Joseph Satterley of Kazan,
McClain, Satterley & Greenwood, PC, in Oakland, California, firm colleague
Denyse Clancy, and Moshe Maimon of Levy Konigsberg, LLP, in New York. This
legal team secured a similar New Jersey verdict for $117 million in 2018.
$27,342,500 Mesothelioma Trial Verdict for Former Wife of Insulator
California jury found that Owens-Illinois, a former manufacturer of KAYLO
asbestos containing thermal pipe insulation, manufactured a defective product,
was negligent, and failed to adequately warn consumers, and fraudulently
concealed the health hazards of its KAYLO products. The jury also found that
Owens-Illinois, Inc. acted with malice, oppression or fraud.
$22,170,000 Mesothelioma Trial Verdict for the Family of a Deceased Paint-Maker
Following a six-week
trial, a jury in Oakland, CA found that the talc sold by Vanderbilt and Imerys
Talc America’s predecessors contained deadly asbestos. The jury found those
companies were negligent and strictly liable for the wrongful death of the
plaintiff paint maker. Additionally, the jury found that both Vanderbilt and
Imerys had acted with malice, oppression and fraud, and the jury awarded
punitive damages, meant to punish a company for its bad acts.
$20,500,000 Verdict for Pipe Manufacturing Plant Worker
County jury found asbestos-cement pipe manufacturer J-M A/C Pipe Co. negligent
and its actions malicious.
$20,000,000 Verdict for Woman Exposed to Asbestos in Her Own Family Home
County Superior Court jury found Hill Brothers Chemical Company responsible for
mesothelioma and conduct undertaken with malice, oppression or fraud.
$17,400,000 Two-Phase Verdict for Heavy Duty Vehicle Parts Man
County, California jury found that manufacturers Pneumo Abex, Arvin Meritor,
and Carlisle Corporation defectively designed their brakes, failed to
adequately warn consumers and customers of the dangers the brakes posed, were
negligent, and intentionally concealed information that could have prevented
harm, and acted with malice, fraud and oppression, warranting a second phase
$12,000,000 Verdict in Colgate, J&J Trial for Lifelong User of Talc Powder Products
In June of
2019, Denyse Clancy and Joseph D. Satterley of Kazan McClain Satterley &
Greenwood secured a $12 million verdict against Johnson & Johnson and
Colgate-Palmolive for a plaintiff schoolteacher who alleged that the companies’
cosmetic talc products contained asbestos and caused her mesothelioma, a type
of cancer that currently has no cure.
$11,500,000 Verdict for Construction Project Estimator
An Alameda County jury found Eternit, Inc., manufacturer of enameled cement asbestos board, liable based on design defect, failure to warn and negligent supply.
Mesothelioma Trial: $11,000,000 Wrongful Death Verdict Reached for Automotive Parts Man with Mesothelioma
An Alameda County, California jury returned an $11 million verdict in a wrongful death suit against Pneumo Abex LLC on January 15, 2014. The jury was tasked with deciding the full amount of Mr. Bankhead’s widow’s and daughters’ losses due to his wrongful death 17 years before his life expectancy.
$10,038,000 Verdict for Welder
County jury found asbestos supplier Plant Insulation liable for mesothelioma.
$10,000,000 Mesothelioma Verdict for Former Pipe Installer Affirmed on Appeal
California Court of Appeal has affirmed the $10 million verdict of an Oakland,
California jury who returned a mesothelioma verdict that found CertainTeed
Corporation substantially responsible for pipe installer Michael Burch
developing mesothelioma. The jury found pipe manufacturer CertainTeed
Corporation liable for negligence, strict product liability, failure to warn,
and fraud by intentional concealment of the dangerous asbestos exposure caused
during installation of its asbestos-cement pipe.
$6,951,000 Mesothelioma Verdict for Boilermaker
six-week trial, an Alameda County, California jury returned a mesothelioma
verdict which found Union Pacific Railroad Company responsible for the
suffering and wrongful death of Jeffrey Emerson, who worked as a boilermaker at
the Southern Pacific Railroad from 1971 to 1995. The company merged with Union
Pacific in 1997.
$6,825,000 Verdict for Career Auto Mechanic
California jury found Ford Motor Company guilty of defectively designed
products, failure to warn of product defect, and negligence.
$6,500,000 Verdict to Woman for Childhood Household Asbestos Exposure
County jury found USX Corporation, successor corporation to Western Pipe &
Steel shipyard, liable for mesothelioma that arose after childhood household
exposure to asbestos.
$5,482,047 Verdict for Machinist
California jury found RSCC Wire & Cable, manufacturer of Rockbestos
asbestos insulated wire and cable products, guilty by failing to adequately
warn consumers and customers of the dangers its wire products posed, its
negligence, and its malicious and oppressive misconduct.
$5,437,882 Asbestos Verdict for Leadership Trainer
California jury found Crane Co, a manufacturer of industrial products, liable
for a man’s mesothelioma after hearing evidence showing that Crane Co corporate
officers knew or should have known as early as the 1930s that asbestos causes
diseases that kill.
$4,055,000 Verdict for Automobile Serviceman
Angeles jury found brake manufacturer Pneumo Abex had been aware of the deadly
health effects of breathing asbestos dust but did not begin warning its
customers of those effects until decades later.
Kazan Law is the Top Choice to Represent You or a Loved One in a Mesothelioma Lawsuit
The mesothelioma lawyers at Kazan, McClain, Satterley & Greenwood have long been and remain the top choice to represent you or a loved one in a California mesothelioma lawsuit. Beyond the consistent results highlighted above, the Kazan firm provides world-class representation that has just one focus: maximizing each client’s recovery through an honest evaluation of the case, a small caseload that is pursued thoroughly, and hard work. The Kazan firm does not take a large number of cases each year. We focus on quality work, not quantity. This lets us give each case and client the attention and focus you need and deserve.
We will evaluate your claim honestly to determine both whether it has the potential for success and whether the Kazan firm is the right fit. If it is not, we may suggest another firm. But if it is, and we take your case, we will not sell it to another firm – we do the work.
For over 40 years, the Kazan firm has been the gold standard of California mesothelioma law firms.
We can be reached around the clock to discuss your claim. To get a free consultation with one of our mesothelioma attorneys, please call 1-877-995-6372, fill out the form on this page or use our live chat widget.