An Alameda County, California jury returned an $11 million verdict in an asbestos wrongful death suit (Emily Bankhead, Tammy Bankhead, and Debbie Bankhead Meiers v. ArvinMeritor, Inc., et al., Alameda County Superior Court Case No. RG12632899) against Pneumo Abex LLC on January 15, 2014. Kazan Law partner David McClain represented Emily Bankhead, Tammy Bankhead, and Debbie Bankhead-Meiers, the widow and adult daughters, respectively, of Gordon Bankhead. 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 mesothelioma, who died from the disease at age 68.
Mr. Bankhead’s tragic death gave rise to a new case to compensate his family for their loss of his companionship for all the years by which his life was cut short. This wrongful death lawsuit was filed by Kazan Law on the Bankhead’s behalf. In this second trial, which commenced January 13, 2014, Pneumo Abex was not allowed to dispute its responsibility for Mr. Bankhead’s death. The jury was not told the reasons for Pneumo Abex’s liability, nor were they told about the circumstances of Mr. Bankhead’s death. 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.
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. “This verdict shows that wrongful death cases are extremely valuable and undervalued by insurers and defendants,” stated Mr. McClain. “The jury returned a reasonable and fair decision that shows how jurors value the loss and love of a parent and family.”
According to Mr. McClain, “No amount of money can make up for Mr. Bankhead’s death, but we at Kazan Law and the family take comfort from the jury’s swift and just verdict.”
Gordon Bankhead worked from 1965 to 1999 in the service and repair of heavy duty vehicles as a Parts Man. He regularly handled asbestos-containing brakes, and was present for the inspection, replacement, grinding, and blowing out of asbestos-containing brakes. All of these activities caused him to breathe deadly asbestos dust. Pneumo Abex manufactured many of the brake linings Mr. Bankhead was exposed to.
Mr. and Mrs. Bankhead were represented in their first trial by Kazan Law partners Joseph Satterley and Justin Bosl, and former partner Leigh Kirmsse. The jury awarded Mr. Bankhead $1,470,000 for his past and future economic loss, and $1,500,000 for his pain and suffering. The jury also awarded his wife, Emily Bankhead $1,000,000 for her loss of her husband’s support and companionship. The jury found that defendants’ actions were malicious, fraudulent, and/or oppressive and awarded $9,000,000 in punitive damages against Pneumo Abex. Pneumo Abex appealed the verdict, which was subsequently upheld.