By Kathleen Bianco, J.D.
A Tennessee jury has awarded $2.1 million to the widow of an industrial mechanic who developed mesothelioma as a result of his exposure to asbestos contained in products supplied by Ameron International Corp. and others. According to the jury, Ameron’s products were defective and unreasonably dangerous and the company had violated federal regulations in its manufacture and labeling of its product, which was a substantial contributing factor in causing the worker’s illness and death. However, the jury did not award punitive damages, having found that the widow failed to meet the burden of proof on this claim (Davis v. 3M Co., September 19, 2018).
Complaint. The widow’s complaint alleged that her husband had worked as an industrial maintenance mechanic for Stauffer Chemical in Tennessee for 34 years. In the normal course of his employment, he regularly worked with Bondstrand asbestos pipe and fittings manufactured by Ameron. His work with the asbestos pipes included cutting and grinding the pipe and fittings to create secure fittings. This work created large amounts of asbestos dust, which the worker was exposed to and inhaled or ingested. According to the complaint, the manufacturers were negligent in failing to warn the decedent about the dangers of their products and in failing to remove the products from the market despite knowing the hazards they posed to workers. The widow alleged that as a direct and proximate result of the companies’ negligent conduct, her husband contracted mesothelioma.
The widow also asserted that the defendants acted with a flagrant disregard for the rights of others and with actual awareness that the conduct would, in reasonable probability, result in human deaths and great bodily harm. As a result, the widow sought punitive damages. She also asserted a claim for loss of consortium.
Jury verdict. Following a trial, the jury found that: (1) Ameron’s products were defective or unreasonably dangerous; (2) the company violated state or federal regulations; (3) the decedent’s injuries were reasonably foreseeable; and (4) the products proximately caused the decedent’s injuries and death. The jury also found that Ameron’s products were not the sole cause of the decedent’s injuries and death and further concluded that the decedent bore a percentage of the fault. After assigning fault to each of the named defendants and the decedent, the jury awarded the widow $121,216.21 in economic damages, $950,000 for non-economic damages, and $1 million to the decedent’s survivors for the loss of the love, society, and companionship of their father and husband. The jury did not award punitive damages.
According to a press release from the plaintiff’s attorneys, the final jury award amounted to approximately $2.1 million, of which Ameron was responsible for $269,258.11. The remaining 85 percent was assigned to entities not represented at trial.
The case is No. 15734.
Attorneys: Gibbs Henderson (Waters Kraus & Paul) and R. Holland Matthews (The Matthew Firm, PLLC) for Lois Irene Davis.
Companies: 3M Co.; Ameron International Corp.; Ashland Inc.
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