California Appeals Court Upholds $2.6 Million Award in Second-Hand Mesothelioma Case

After he was diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma, Cornelius Williams filed a personal injury claim against several companies that he blamed for his second-hand asbestos exposure. Included among them was J-M Manufacturing Company, a pipe manufacturer whose asbestos-cement pipes his brother Nathan had worked with.  A California jury awarded him $2.6 million in damages, and the company appealed that decision. Last week, a California appeals court upheld the jury’s decision.


Mesothelioma Victim Dies During Appeal

Though mesothelioma claimed Cornelius Williams’ life while he was waiting for the appeal to be decided, his brother continued the claim on his behalf.  The original cause of action accused the company of strict liability based on design defect and failure to warn. The jury agreed that Cornelius had proven he was exposed to asbestos and that the pipe sold by J-MM was a substantial factor in his risk of developing the rare, asbestos-related cancer

The company argued that strict liability did not apply to Cornelius because he was a non-household member of his brother under a previous court ruling. They also argued that there was no substantial evidence that Cornelius had been exposed to asbestos from J-MM’s pipe and that the court had abused its discretion in excluding certain exhibits from the trial. Despite these arguments, the judges of the Court of Appeal of the State of California affirmed the lower court and jury’s decision.

Judges Affirm Lower Court’s Decision in Mesothelioma Case

In its review of the mesothelioma verdict, the appeals court wrote that the previous state Supreme Court decision did not apply to the Williams case. They rejected the company’s argument that the verdict ignored limits that the state had placed on bystander recovery, citing a previous decision that said in part, “If anything, bystanders should be entitled to greater protection than the consumer or user where injury to bystanders from the defect is reasonably foreseeable.”

That decision concluded, “In short, the bystander is in greater need of protection from defective products which are dangerous, and if any distinction should be made between bystanders and users, it should be made, contrary to the position of defendants, to extend greater liability in favor of the bystanders.” 

Mesothelioma victims are entitled to justice. For information on how the Patient Advocates at can help you, contact us today at 1-800-692-8608.

Terri Heimann Oppenheimer

Terri Oppenheimer

Terri Heimann Oppenheimer is the head writer of our 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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