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Georgia Verdicts

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Asbestos products at mill led to mesothelioma, family claimed

Amount:

$4,993,550.16

Type:

Verdict-Plaintiff

State:

Georgia

Venue:

Chatham County

Court:

Chatham County, State Court

Injury Type(s):

other-death; cancer-mesothelioma

Case Type:

Products Liability - Asbestos; Wrongful Death - Survival Damages; Products Liability - Design Defect, Failure to Warn

Case Name:

Vera Letha Adams the surviving spouse of Perry Wilson Adams, deceased, and James R. Trimm, M.D. in his capacity as the duly appointed executor of The Estate of Perry Wilson Adams, deceased v. Air and Liquid Systems Corporation, individually and as successor by merger to Buffalo Pumps Inc., Aurora Pump Company, Crane Co., Gould Pumps Inc., Ingersoll Rand Company, John Crane Inc., Gardner Denver Nash LLC individually and as successor in interest to Nash Engineering Company, Owens Illinois Inc., Union Carbide Corporation, and Warren Pumps LLC f/k/a Warren Pumps Inc., No. STCV1003924

Date:

June 13, 2016

Parties

Plaintiff(s):

Vera Letha Adams (Female), 

James R. Trimm, M.D. (Male), 

Estate of Perry Wilson Adams (Male)

Plaintiff Attorney(s):

Robert C. Buck; Buck Law Firm; Atlanta, GA, for Vera Letha Adams, James R. Trimm, M.D., Estate of Perry Wilson Adams

Plaintiff Expert(s):

David Rosner; Ph.D.; Asbestos; New York, NY called by: Robert C. Buck ■ Jerry Lauderdale; Industrial Hygiene; Austin, TX called by: Robert C. Buck ■ Jerrold Abraham; M.D.; Pathology; Syracuse, NY called by: Robert C. Buck ■ William Longo; Ph.D.; Materials Science; Norcross, GA called by: Robert C. Buck

Defendant(s):

Crane Co., 

Aurora Pump Co., 

John Crane Inc., 

Gould Pumps Inc., 

Warren Pumps LLC, 

Union Carbide Corp., 

Owens Illinois Corp., 

Gardner Denver Nash LLC, 

Air and Liquid Systems Corp.

Defense Attorney(s):

William Swallow; O'Connell, Tivin, Miller & Burns, LLC; Chicago, IL, for John Crane Inc. ■ Edward R. Ulloa; Hawkins Parnell Thackston & Young LLP; Los Angeles, CA, for John Crane Inc. ■ None reported; for Crane Co., Aurora Pump Co., Gould Pumps Inc., Warren Pumps LLC, Union Carbide Corp., Owens Illinois Corp., Gardner Denver Nash LLC, Air and Liquid Systems Corp. ■ Daniel M. Pammer; O'Connell, Tivin, Miller & Burns, LLC; Chicago, IL, for John Crane Inc. ■ Camille A. Smith; Hawkins Parnell Thackston & Young LLP; Atlanta, GA, for John Crane Inc.

Defendant Expert(s):

Charles Blake; Industrial Hygiene; Kennesaw, GA called by: William Swallow, Edward R. Ulloa, Daniel M. Pammer, Camille A. Smith

Facts:

In 2010, plaintiff Perry Wilson Adams, a paper-mill worker, was diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma. He died from the disease on Aug. 2, 2012, at age 76. Adams had allegedly been exposed to products containing asbestos while working at the Mahrt paper mill, in Cottonwood, Alabama, from 1968 through 1985. Adams's widow, Vera Letha Adams, and estate representative James R. Trimm, M.D., filed a products liability lawsuit against 10 manufacturers and suppliers of asbestos products to which Adams was allegedly exposed. The claims were settled confidentially or were otherwise dismissed as to all defendants except John Crane Inc. (The case was originally tried in 2013, against John Crane and three co-defendants but a mistrial was declared.) The complaint asserted claims against John Crane for defective design and failure to warn relating to asbestos-containing gaskets and packing materials that Adams used in his duties as a multi-craft mechanic at the mill. It asserted that no warnings were placed on the John Crane chrysotile and crocidolite gaskets and packing used by Adams and to which he was exposed during his employment. Before his death, Adams testified that he had fabricated and removed John Crane chrysotile and crocidolite asbestos gaskets and packings on a regular basis from 1968 through approximately 1978, and was exposed as a bystander while he supervised a number of multi-craft mechanics from 1978 through 1985. John Crane denied that its asbestos products caused Adams' illness and death. The case proceeded to trial with the jury allowed to consider the comparative negligence of the other defendants, which were no longer in the case, and John Crane made the argument that there were many other sources of asbestos to which Adams was exposed during his lifetime. John Crane was unable to produce definitive sales records for the relevant time-period and the plaintiffs were able to obtain a spoliation order and favorable jury instruction. John Crane attempted to rely upon scientific articles published by Chemrisk, a human health and environmental risk consulting firm. John Crane paid Chemrisk more than $15.28 million as a litigation consultant since 2009. The plaintiffs argued that portions of the money paid by John Crane were for the purpose of funding "doubt science" to be published in the scientific literature to assist in the defense of asbestos claims. John Crane's corporate representative denied knowledge of that amount of money paid to Chemrisk.

Injury:

Perry Adams was diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma and died from that condition following chemotherapy treatments.

Result:

The jury found that John Crane's negligence (strict liability) was a contributing factor to Adams' illness and death. The jury assigned 40.5 percent of the negligence to John Cane and apportioned the remaining negligence to the defendants not on trial. The jury returned a damages award of $4,993,550.00, consisting of $1,750,000 for pain and suffering, $544,550 for medical and funeral expenses, and $2,699,000 for wrongful death damages. After molding the verdict to reflect the portion of the award attributed to John Crane, Inc., the resulting judgment in plaintiffs' favor before the addition of interest and costs was for $2,022,387.81.

Estate of Perry Wilson Adams: $1,750,000 Wrongful Death: Survival; $544,550 Wrongful Death: medical and funeral expenses; $2,699,000 Wrongful Death: wrongful death

Actual Award:

$2,022,387.81

Trial Information:

Judge:

H. Gregory Fowler

Trial Length:

10  days

Trial Deliberations:

4  hours

Jury Vote:

12-0

Editor's Comment:

This report is based on information that was provided by plaintiffs' counsel and media reports. Defense counsel did not respond to the reporter's phone calls.