In April of 2018, 69-year-old William Phipps was diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma. Phipps had spent the majority of his adult life working as an HVAC technician, repairing and installing heating, ventilation and air conditioning units, a skill he learned after his four years serving in the U.S. Navy onboard the U.S.S. Porterfield. When he and his wife Linda were awarded $25 million in damages by a California jury, the lone defendant appealed the judgment, arguing that the jury had improperly allocated fault and that the award was excessive. The Court of Appeals of California denied their appeal, indicating that the award and decision were appropriate and justified.
Asbestos-Contaminated Compressors on Navy Ship Blamed for Mesothelioma
In their original mesothelioma lawsuit, William and Linda Phipps named 23 different companies as defendants, but over the course of readying for trial several were either dismissed or settled with the couple. The lone remaining defendant was Copeland Corporation. At trial, witnesses testified about Phipps’ work with the compressors, replacing gaskets, using tools to scrape the old gasket and releasing asbestos dust that he inhaled. An expert witness explained that this represented “a significant exposure” that “went well above the background level of asbestos that’s just in the general air.”
For himself, Phipps indicated that he’d never seen or been given any warning about the risk of mesothelioma from the Copeland replacement gaskets he used. A co-worker also testified to the extent of his work on Copeland compressors, and a Copeland representative testified about the asbestos content of the company’s compressors. That representative also indicated that after the company learned of the dangers of asbestos from their product, their own employees were outfitted with respirators, but no warning was provided to customers. And Copeland’s own expert testified that mesothelioma is “a very dreadful disease” that is “one of the worst cancers to have.”
Jury Awards Mesothelioma Victim Over $25 Million in Damages
In response to the evidence presented, the jury awarded Mr. Phipps and his wife over $25 million in damages and apportioned 60 percent of the blame to Copeland. In response Copeland argued that the evidence presented to the jury did not support the allocation of fault and that the damages awarded were excessive. The appeals court denied their arguments, with the judges pointing to the company’s failure to offer a better allocation of blame, as well as to the significant harm that asbestos had caused the Phipps family. They affirmed the judgment and the Phippses were also awarded their costs for facing the appeal.
If you or someone you love has been diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma, there are numerous resources available to help you get the justice you deserve. For more information contact the Patient Advocates at Mesothelioma.net today at 1-800-692-8608.