A California jury recently awarded $14.6 million to a woman who was diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma after years of asbestos exposure from brakes sold in the auto parts and repair shop she’d owned with her former husband. The verdict included $6 million in punitive damages meant to punish Parker-Hannifin Corporation and its successor Standard Motor Products for malice, and the company filed an appeal of that decision. Though they argued that evidence of other sources of asbestos exposure had been wrongly excluded at trial and that the jury had responded to improper attorney conduct in assigning punitive damages, the appeals court upheld the jury’s decision.
Asbestos Company’s Attempt to Shift Blame for Mesothelioma Fails
The lawsuit revolved around the life and death of Barbara Barr, who was diagnosed with mesothelioma at the age of 71. She’d owned an auto parts and repair store with her former husband and was exposed to asbestos in the service bays where brake jobs were performed, as well as while handling new brakes that arrived from the company and used parts that she packed up to send back. She died of the disease shortly after the appeal was filed.
In its appeal of the mesothelioma damages assigned to them, Parker argued that evidence of Barr’s father’s work history should have been admitted as evidence. Her father had been a welder in a shipyard, and the company inferred that her asbestos exposure could be blamed on his work clothes. But after examination of testimony, the court had ruled that there was insufficient evidence that he had worked near or with asbestos. The company also argued that Barr’s attorneys had made statements that caused the jury to award punitive damages based on the company’s attorney’s behavior in court rather than based on their behavior around the use of asbestos.
Appeals Court Denies Asbestos Company Argument
In its review of the case, the Court of Appeals of California, First District Division Three rejected the asbestos company’s arguments, noting that witness testimony was insufficient to support the idea that Barr’s mesothelioma had come from secondhand exposure to her father or his work clothes. In answer to the accusation about improperly targeted punitive damages, the court pointed out both that the company had failed to notify their customers of the dangers of asbestos while taking precautions on behalf of its own employees, and that the plaintiff’s attorney had explicitly asserted that the company should be held liable for punitive damages because it “knew about hazards and didn’t fully disclose them.” Barr’s family will receive the assigned damages as well as court costs.
When mesothelioma victims are harmed by others’ negligence, they have the right to pursue justice for what has happened to them. For more information on your rights, contact the Patient Advocates at Mesothelioma.net today at 1-800-692-8608.