An Important Year For Asbestos Litigation – Kazan Law Highlights From 2014
The year 2014 was an important one for favorable asbestos litigation verdicts and landmark decisions our firm was able to achieve for our clients. Our precedent-setting work will also benefit many other victims of harmful asbestos exposure and personal injury. Here are several highlights:
$11 Million Award in Wrongful Death Asbestos Litigation
The year 2014 started with January’s Alameda County $11 million verdict in a wrongful death asbestos litigation suit (Emily Bankhead, Tammy Bankhead, and Debbie Bankhead Meiers v. ArvinMeritor, Inc., et al.,) against Pneumo Abex LLC.
A prior jury had found that Pneumo Abex’s asbestos-containing brakes were defective, and that Pneumo Abex negligently, intentionally, and maliciously caused Mr. Bankhead’s fatal mesothelioma. The jury valued Emily Bankhead’s losses at $6 million, and Tammy Bankhead’s and Debbie Bankhead-Meiers’s losses at $2,500,000 each.
$5 Million Asbestos Litigation Verdict Upheld for Mesothelioma Victim
In April, a California court of appeals upheld a $5,437,882 verdict for malignant mesothelioma patient James Hellam against industrial-products supplier Crane Co. (Hellam v. Crane Co).
The appellate court held that evidence supported the finding that Crane’s gaskets and cement were defectively designed because they emitted and exposed Hellam to significant levels of toxic asbestos fibers during ordinary use. The court agreed that the jury rightly attributed Crane’s products being the cause of Hellam’s malignant mesothelioma.
The appeals court affirmed the trial court’s award of over $85,000 in litigation costs to Hellam and the following compensation for damages:
- Economic damages = $937, 882.56
- Non-economic damages = $4,500,000.00
- Total = $5,437.882.56
Landmark Victory in Take Home Asbestos Exposure Case
In May, the California Court of Appeal reversed a lower court’s ruling that would have dismissed a take home asbestos litigation case against Pneumo Abex, a manufacturer of asbestos brakes, brought by Johnny Kesner, who was exposed to asbestos dust brought home from the Abex plant by his uncle, an employee there. (Kesner v. Pneumo Abex, LLC).
The appellate court decision was especially significant because it is the first one to limit a previous court decision that prevented the owner of a piece of property from being held liable for harmful take home asbestos exposures that resulted from the work done on the property.
A Precedent-Setting Victory in State Supreme Court
The California Supreme Court rejected Ford Motor Company’s petition for review of a published appellate decision in favor of Kazan Law clients Patrick and Sharon Scott (Scott v. Ford Motor Company). Mr. Scott’s mesothelioma cancer was caused by prolonged asbestos exposure from automotive brakes.
A jury awarded Patrick Scott $1.5 million in damages and legal costs against Ford in November 2012 after the trial team presented clear evidence that Ford knew of the asbestos exposure risks in their products and failed to warn Mr. Scott.
In March, a California appellate court upheld the $1.5 million judgment. Ford then tried to claim that the judgment needed further review because Ford’s headquarters are in Michigan, a state with no legal punitive damages. But in a precedent setting decision for asbestos litigation and other types of personal injury law cases, the court agreed that when a company exposes people to the risks associated with asbestos — or any other toxic substance or dangerous product — in California, a California jury has the right to apply punitive damages law to the case.
Judge Decides in Favor of Case Going to Trial
In July, an old laboratory parts catalog provided an Alameda County Superior Court judge with sufficient evidence to decide that Kazan Law clients James and Louise Leonard could take the next step in asbestos litigation.
Judge Jo-Lynne Q. Lee decided that their case Leonard v. Avantor Performance Materials, Inc., et al., could move forward to trial. At his deposition, Mr. Leonard was refused a product catalog by a product supplier to help him identify asbestos-containing parts he worked with. But when given a catalog, Mr. Leonard was able to provide the identifying information.