$6.6 Million Mesothelioma Award Reinstated by Florida Supreme Court

William Aubin was diagnosed with malignant peritoneal mesothelioma after having worked as a construction supervisor for his father’s company in the early 1970s. He filed suit against multiple companies, but at trial only Union Carbide remained as a defendant. The jury found the company liable and awarded him $6.6 million. When Union Carbide appealed the decision on several grounds, an appeals court reversed the lower court’s decision, but the Florida Supreme Court reinstated the jury’s judgment, rejecting each of the arguments that the company had made against the trial’s management.

Florida supreme court

Man’s Peritoneal Mesothelioma Blamed on Asbestos-Contaminated Joint Compounds

According to testimony presented at trial, Mr. Aubin’s work on construction sites in Sarasota, Florida exposed him to the dust that was created from sanding and sweeping drywall joint compounds which were made with asbestos. He had been unaware of the dangers of the carcinogenic material. His lawsuit accused Union Carbide of strict liability design defect, strict liability failure to warn, and negligent failure to warn. 

The jury in the mesothelioma trial heard that Union Carbide’s asbestos was 99.9% pure in comparison to competitors’ asbestos, and that Union Carbide had been aware of the dangers of its product as early as 1964. The victim’s attorney also provided testimony regarding his exposure and its role in his illness. Though Union Carbide argued that chrysotile asbestos was not likely to cause mesothelioma and asked for a directed verdict, the trial court rejected this request, as well as others about jury instructions. The jury found the company negligent and returned a $14,191,000 verdict for Aubin, but reduced the judgment to $6.6 million to reflect other companies’ liabilities. 

Supreme Court Returns $6.6 Million to Mesothelioma Victim

Union Carbide appealed the jury’s verdict on multiple legal grounds, and an appeals court agreed, effectively robbing the mesothelioma victim of the justice that the jury had indicated he deserved. But upon appeal, the Supreme Court of Florida reinstated the verdict, noting that the reasons for the appeals court’s reversal were inappropriate. Regarding the product’s faulty design, they wrote that there was no requirement for a plaintiff to present proof of a reasonable alternative design.

Similarly, they disagreed that the jury in the mesothelioma case was given inappropriate instructions about Union Carbide’s failure to warn. Notably, the court wrote that Union Carbide “cannot complain on appeal that a trial court committed reversible error by failing to correct that party’s own inaccurate and misleading proposed instructions.” They concluded that the appeals court had erred in reversing the verdict, and quashed their decision. 

If you or someone you love has been diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma, the Patient Advocates at Mesothelioma.net are here to help. Contact us today at 1-800-692-8608.

Terri Heimann Oppenheimer

Terri Oppenheimer

Terri Heimann Oppenheimer is the head writer of our Mesothelioma.net news blog. She graduated from the College of William and Mary with a degree in English. Terri believes that knowledge is power and she is committed to sharing news about the impact of mesothelioma, the latest research and medical breakthroughs, and victims’ stories.

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