After nine-week trial, unanimous defense verdict in asbestos case where $40 million in damages had been sought.
We obtained a unanimous defense verdict after a nine-week trial in Suffolk County, New York, where the plaintiff’s counsel requested that the jury award $40 million in damages. The plaintiff was 51 years old when she was diagnosed with peritoneal mesothelioma, allegedly as a result of being exposed to asbestos-containing joint compound manufactured and sold by our client. The plaintiff, who was 56 at the time of trial, testified that she had little or no knowledge of ever being exposed to asbestos. However, her older sister, who served as the only product identification witness at trial, testified that she recalled that their father used asbestos-containing joint compound on two occasions, approximately 50 years ago, when he repaired their home after a fire in 1970 and when he built a home in Florida around 1975. The plaintiff was five years old during the alleged exposures, and her sister was seven years older. The plaintiff’s sister testified that she had a vivid memory of her father using six different joint compounds during the two projects, including our client’s product. She also testified that the plaintiff was present hundreds of times when their father mixed, applied and sanded the joint compound. At trial, we called an industrial hygienist, a toxicologist and an epidemiologist, who testified that the type of asbestos fiber used in our client’s joint compound did not cause or contribute to her mesothelioma because the fibers are too short and do not cause disease. Our epidemiologist testified that the plaintiff’s mesothelioma developed spontaneously and was not the result of asbestos exposure. We also called a construction expert, who testified that the sister’s testimony regarding the amount of joint compound used and the time the sister was exposed were excessive. The jury deliberated an hour before returning the verdict. Post-trial comments from jurors indicated they did not find the sister to be credible.