Jury Awards Over $11.5 Million in Asbestos Case

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A jury awarded over $1.1 million to a Navy veteran suffering from asbestosis and $400,000 to his wife for the loss of his companionship. The defendant acted with malice or oppression, according to the jury, which added another $10 million in punitive damages against the company.

A jury awarded over $1.1 million to a Navy veteran suffering from asbestosis and $400,000 to his wife for the loss of his companionship. The defendant, Asbestos Corporation Limited, acted with malice or oppression, according to the jury, which added another $10 million in punitive damages against the company.

Asbestos Corporation Limited is the owner and former operator of asbestos mines in the Thetford Mines region of Quebec, Canada. The plaintiffs are Joseph and Mary Garza, who currently live in Longmont, Colorado.

In early 2004, Mr. Garza was diagnosed with asbestosis, a progressive and debilitating scarring of the lung tissue that is caused by exposure to asbestos. He was placed on supplemental oxygen, which he has used on a 24-hour basis for over two years. He also takes various medications for chest discomfort and to control the anxiety caused by his breathing problems. Mrs. Garza is disabled and had relied on her husband to perform household services, such as cooking, cleaning, gardening and maintenance.

Mr. Garza was a fireman and boilerman aboard several ships during his career in the Navy from 1948 through 1957. He worked in boiler rooms, close quarters in which he was exposed to asbestos-containing cements, insulation, gaskets and packing.

The Navy often used Eagle Picher Super 66 insulating cement aboard its ships during this time period. Mixing, applying or cleaning up of this dry powder material releases extremely high levels of asbestos, according to expert testimony. Mr. Garza personally mixed and applied Eagle Picher Super 66 insulating cements to make repairs, as well as working near others performing the same tasks, but never received, nor wore any form of respiratory protection. He saw no warnings regarding health hazard on the packaging of this material.

The defendant, Asbestos Corporation Limited, was the exclusive supplier of asbestos fiber to Eagle Picher Industries from 1935 through 1957. The asbestos used in Eagle Picher Super 66 insulating cement was entirely comprised of Asbestos Corporation Limited’s asbestos fiber.

Asbestos Corporation Limited did not put warning labels about asbestos health hazards on its bags until early 1970. Sales brochures, introduced as evidence, showed that the company did not warn about asbestos dangers or advise consumers about safe work practices prior to that date. The company continues to receive income from the mining and sale of asbestos through a limited partnership.

The case is Mary and Joseph Garza v Asbestos Corporation Limited, San Francisco Superior Court, #438144. The plaintiffs were represented at trial by Christopher Andreas and Paul Vaillancourt of the law firm of Brayton Purcell LLP. Asbestos Corporation Limited was represented at trial by Randall Bernard of Wilson Elser Moskowitz Edelman & Dicker LLP of San Francisco, California.

About Brayton Purcell

For over 20 years, Brayton Purcell has helped clients protect their legal rights in the face of devastating losses such as illness, injuries, and harm to family members. The law firm enjoys a national reputation for the high quality of its personal injury and product liability work, particularly in the area of asbestos litigation. For more information, call 415-898-1555 or visit the firm web site at http://www.braytonlaw.com.

For information about asbestos and asbestos-related diseases, see the firm’s web sites, Mesothelioma Network, http://www.mesotheliomasite.com and Asbestos Network, http://www.asbestosnetwork.com.

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Chris Andreas
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