Unanimous defense verdict in asbestos trial in New Mexico. Plaintiff sought nearly $40 million in damages.
We obtained a unanimous 12-0 defense verdict after a two-week trial in Santa Fe County, New Mexico, where the plaintiff was seeking approximately $40 million in damages. In this asbestos litigation case, it was alleged that the decedent contracted mesothelioma and died at the age of 76 as a result of being exposed to asbestos-containing joint compound manufactured and sold by our client. The decedent worked as an electrician for 40 years and contended he worked in the vicinity of drywall workers at various commercial worksites throughout Albuquerque and New Mexico. The plaintiff claimed that our client’s joint compound was defective because it was sold without a warning of the well-established dangers of asbestos. Further, the plaintiff argued that our client was negligent because it knew or should have known of the dangers of asbestos, which were readily known from as early as the 1930s. The defense argued that the asbestos fiber used in our client’s joint compound was safe because the fibers were short fibers and not known to increase the risk of disease. It was further argued that our client acted reasonably and in a timely manner when it placed a government-mandated warning on their product in the early 1970s. Lastly, it was argued that the only product identification witness called by the plaintiff was not credible because he gave three depositions in 2017 and did not identify our client’s product. He first identified our client’s product during his fourth deposition in late 2019, when our client was the only remaining defendant. The jury found our client’s product was not defective, but that they were negligent. However, the jury found the negligence was not a cause of the decedent’s mesothelioma.