San Francisco Jury Finds Boiler Manufacturer Negligent And Assesses Just Over $2 Million in Damages to Family of Navy Boiler Tender

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A San Francisco jury ruled that marine boiler manufacturer, Foster Wheeler LLC, was negligent in its supply of asbestos-containing boilers sold to the U.S. Navy for use aboard various naval fighting ships. In finding for the family of Calvin Oxford, a former Navy boiler tender who served from 1963 to 1967, the jury assessed $2,039,519 in total damages. Calvin Oxford died of mesothelioma, an invariably fatal cancer of the lining of the lungs caused by exposures to asbestos dust from insulation, gaskets and packings commonly used to outfit ship boilers.

Foster Wheeler simply failed to discharge its duty of ordinary care to avoid injury to others

On Friday, January 4, 2008, after a four-week trial, a San Francisco jury ruled that marine boiler manufacturer, Foster Wheeler LLC, was negligent in its supply of asbestos-containing boilers sold to the U.S. Navy for use aboard various naval fighting ships. In finding for the family of decedent, Calvin Oxford, a former Navy boiler tender who served from 1963 to 1967 aboard the auxiliary tendership USS KLONDIKE, the jury assessed $2,039,519 in total damages. One million of which was for non-economic damages. Calvin Oxford died of mesothelioma, an invariably fatal cancer of the lining of the lungs caused by exposures to asbestos dust from insulation, gaskets and packings commonly used to outfit ship boilers. The plaintiffs in the trial were the surviving widow and two children of Mr. Oxford. Although the USS KLONDIKE was not itself built using Foster Wheeler boilers, Mr. Oxford worked on the company's boilers aboard many other Navy vessels serviced by the USS KLONDIKE.

"We showed the jury that despite there being overwhelming evidence of the dangers of exposure to asbestos dating back to before Mr. Oxford was even born, Foster Wheeler ignored the dangers and did nothing to prevent others like Mr. Oxford from being injured by their asbestos products," said Gilbert Purcell who, along with his associate Andrew Chew of Brayton Purcell LLP tried the case for the Oxford family. "Foster Wheeler simply failed to discharge its duty of ordinary care to avoid injury to others," Purcell added.

Attorney John Brydon of Brydon, Hugo & Parker defended the case for defendant Foster Wheeler LLC. At trial, Foster Wheeler attempted to avoid liability in total by blaming the Navy and other asbestos product manufacturers for Mr. Oxford's exposures to asbestos. The jury did find the U.S. Navy 50% at fault, but rejected Foster Wheeler's claim that they were without any fault whatsoever.

The trial judge presiding over the case was the Honorable Tomar Mason, Judge of the San Francisco Superior Court, Department 608. Post-trial motions to set the exact amount of net judgment in favor of the Oxfords and against Foster Wheeler are pending.

Judy Oxford, et al. v. Foster Wheeler LLC
San Francisco Superior Court Case No. 440328

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Cheryl Kaul
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