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Machinist: Respirator did not protect him from asbestos








Los Angeles County


Superior Court of Los Angeles County, Los Angeles

Injury Type(s):

other-loss of consortium; cancer-chemotherapy; cancer-mesothelioma; abdomen

Case Type:

Products Liability – Design Defect, Failure to Warn, Manufacturing Defect

Case Name:

Louis William Tyler and Becky Tyler v. American Optical Corporation, Cabot Corporation, CBS Corporation aka Viacom Inc., Foster Wheeler LLC, General Electric Company, Indasco Inc., Los Angeles Rubber Company, Metropolitan Life Insurance Company, Pfizer Inc., Warner-Lambert Co., and Does 1-250, Inclusive,
No. BC588866


April 26, 2016



Becky Tyler

Louis William Tyler (Male, 62 Years)

Plaintiff Attorney(s):

Joseph D. Satterley;
Kazan, McClain, Satterley & Greenwood;
Becky Tyler, Louis William Tyler ■ Denyse F. Clancy;
Kazan, McClain, Satterley & Greenwood;
Becky Tyler, Louis William Tyler ■ Joseph A. Nicholson;
Kazan, McClain, Satterley & Greenwood;
Becky Tyler, Louis William Tyler

Plaintiff Expert(s):

Joel Baumgartner; M.D.; Oncologic Surgery; La Jolla,
CA called by:
Joseph D. Satterley, Denyse F. Clancy, Joseph A. Nicholson ■ Barry Horn; M.D.; Pulmonology; Berkeley,
CA called by:
Joseph D. Satterley, Denyse F. Clancy, Joseph A. Nicholson ■ David Egilman; M.D., M.P.H.; Occupational Medicine; Providence,
RI called by:
Joseph D. Satterley, Denyse F. Clancy, Joseph A. Nicholson ■ Darell Bevis; Product Design; San Diego,
CA called by:
Joseph D. Satterley, Denyse F. Clancy, Joseph A. Nicholson ■ Robert Johnson; M.B.A.; Economics; Los Altos,
CA called by:
Joseph D. Satterley, Denyse F. Clancy, Joseph A. Nicholson


Pfizer Inc., 

Indasco Inc., 

CBS Corporation, 

Cabot Corporation, 

Foster Wheeler LLC, 

Warner-Lambert Co., 

General Electric Company, 

Los Angeles Rubber Company, 

American Optical Corporation, 

Metropolitan Life Insurance Company

Defense Attorney(s):

Sharla J. Frost;
Tucker Ellis LLP;
American Optical Corporation ■ None reported;

Pfizer Inc., Indasco Inc., CBS Corporation, Cabot Corporation, Foster Wheeler LLC, Warner-Lambert Co., General Electric Company, Los Angeles Rubber Company, Metropolitan Life Insurance Company ■ Anthony D. Brosamle;
Tucker Ellis LLP;
Los Angeles,
American Optical Corporation

Defendant Expert(s):

Nathan Dorris;
Labels & Warnings;
GA called by:
Sharla J. Frost, Anthony D. Brosamle ■ Steven Smith;
Occupational Medicine;
IN called by:
Sharla J. Frost, Anthony D. Brosamle


In 2015, plaintiff Louis Tyler, a former machinist, was diagnosed with peritoneal mesothelioma, a rare type of cancer that occurs in the abdominal lining due to exposure to asbestos fibers. Tyler previously worked as a machinist at Foundry Service & Supplies, a machine shop in Torrance, from 1972 to 1992. During that time, he was provided with an R2090 respirator, manufactured by American Optical Corp., to protect him from asbestos dust while at work. However, Tyler claimed the respirator was defective and inadequate for protection against asbestos. Tyler sued American Optical Corp. and several other companies, including Cabot Corp., CBS Corp. (also known as Viacom Inc.), Foster Wheeler LLC, General Electric Co., Indasco Inc., Los Angeles Rubber Co., Metropolitan Life Insurance Co., Pfizer Inc., and Warner-Lambert Co. Several of the defendants settled out or were dismissed early in the case. Thus, the matter proceeded to trial against American Optical Corp. and Los Angeles Rubber Co. only. However, Los Angeles Rubber Co. resolved the claims against it prior to the introduction of evidence, and the matter continued against American Optical Corp. on the claims of negligence, manufacturing defect, design defect, failure to warn, intentional misrepresentation, and concealment. Plaintiff’s counsel contended that American Optical Corp. knew of the hazards of asbestos since at least the 1960s and deceptively marketed a defective respirator that it knew did not offer adequate protection against asbestos. Counsel also contended that Tyler relied on the work-issued respirator to protect him, but the respirator failed to prevent his inhalation of asbestos. Counsel further contended that the two-point strap on the subject respirator prevented proper face fit of the mask. Thus, plaintiff’s counsel argued that American Optical Corp. knew the respirator would not prevent asbestos exposure and was otherwise defective, but continued selling the defective respirators and marketed them deceptively. Counsel also argued that the information on the product packaging was insufficient to warn an end user, like Tyler, that the respirator should not be used as protection against asbestos. The plaintiffs’ experts testified that the American Optical’s quarter mask respirator was defective and that the asbestos Tyler breathed in while wearing the respirator substantially contributed to his development of mesothelioma. Defense counsel contended that the R2090N respirator was never designed, approved, or sold for protection against asbestos and that American Optical’s customers should have understood that fact from the publicly available information. Counsel argued that Tyler‘s work at Foundry Service & Supplies, a machine shop and Johns-Manville distributor, caused Tyler to be exposed to high levels of amphibole asbestos fibers as a result of inadequate dust controls and improper respirator selection. Defense counsel also argued that for the first few years that Tyler worked at Foundry, from 1972 to 1975, the shop used a disposable face mask manufactured by 3M Co. and that the 3M product was subject to the same criticisms by the plaintiffs’ experts. Moreover, counsel argued that Tyler would have had considerable periods of unprotected exposures to asbestos because the shop provided no protective clothing and because Tyler wore his respirators improperly. In addition, defense counsel argued that Tyler may not have ever used an American Optical respirator, but that if he did, then American Optical’s own distributor, Tyler‘s employer (Foundry Service & Supplies), 3M Co., and the manufacturer of the asbestos products Tyler cut were all wholly responsible. (However, Foundry Service & Supplies and 3M were not named defendants in this matter.) The defense’s experts testified that an explicit asbestos warning was not necessary on the subject respirator and that Tyler‘s employer failed to provide a safe work environment.


Tyler was diagnosed with peritoneal mesothelioma in May 2015. He subsequently underwent six rounds of systemic chemotherapy as well as cytoreductive surgery with hyperthermic intraperitoneal chemotherapy (HIPEC), a cancer treatment that involves filling the abdominal cavity with chemotherapy drugs that have been heated. Tyler sought recovery of economic damages, where stipulated to be in the amount of $1.8 million. He also sought recovery of damages for his past and future pain and suffering. His wife, plaintiff Becky Tyler, 60, sought recovery of damages for her loss of consortium. They also sought recovery of punitive damages.


On April 22, 2016, the jury found for the Tylers and against American Optical Corp. on all claims, including the intentional tort claims. However, defense counsel was granted its motion for non-suit on the conspiracy claim. The jury determined that American Optical was 70 percent liable for Mr. Tyler‘s condition, that Foundry Service & Supplies (a non-party) was 20 percent liable, that 3M (another non-party) was 5 percent liable, and that Mr. Tyler was, himself, 5 percent liable. No fault was apportioned to either Johns-Manville or Vallen Safety Supply Co., the distributors of the subject respirators who were also non-parties. The jury also determined that the Tylers’ combined compensatory damages totaled $22.8 million. However, since the jury found against American Optical on the intentional tort claims, it was responsible for the entire verdict amount. In addition, the jury found that American Optical acted with malice, fraud or oppression and that its conduct was a substantial factor in causing Mr. Tyler harm. Thus, it determined that Mr. Tyler was entitled to punitive damages. On April 26, 2016, the jury awarded Mr. Tyler $10 million in punitive damages. Thus, the Tylers’ total recovery would be $32.8 million.

Becky Tyler: $6,000,000 Personal Injury: future loss of consortium; $3,000,000 Personal Injury: past loss of consortium; Louis William Tyler: $4,000,000 Personal Injury: Past Pain And Suffering; $8,000,000 Personal Injury: Future Pain And Suffering; $1,800,000 Personal Injury: economic damages (stipulated)

Trial Information:


John J. Kralik

Editor’s Comment:

This report is based on information that was provided by plaintiffs’ and defense counsel.