A former construction supervisor diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma was awarded over $15 million in damages by a California jury that agreed he had been exposed to asbestos in cement pipes. The jury assigned Norris Morgan and his wife compensatory damages of $15,270,501 and an additional $15 million in punitive damages, and though an appeals court agreed with J-M Manufacturing that the punitive damages award should be set aside, they refused to reverse the compensatory damages awarded to the couple.
Mesothelioma Lawsuit Cites Asbestos in Cement Pipe
Malignant mesothelioma is a rare form of cancer caused by exposure to asbestos. It is frequently diagnosed in those who worked in high-heat settings where asbestos was used as insulation and in construction settings where the toxic material was used to add strength to other components. It is this latter application that Mr. Morgan blames for his illness. He described asbestos-cement pipe that was used on jobsites that he oversaw on a daily basis. He recalled supervising plumbers who would “either use a gas or electric saw” to cut the pipe, a process which “created dust” that he was exposed to constantly.
In late 2018, the jury hearing Mr. Morgan’s original lawsuit concluded that he had been “exposed to respirable asbestos from products supplied, distributed, or sold by J-MM.” They awarded him $14,270,501 in compensatory damages and another $1 million to his wife for loss of consortium, as well as an additional $15 million in punitive damages. The company appealed the decision on several grounds, arguing that there was no evidence that they had manufactured or supplied the pipes in question, that a jury instruction had been improper, and that that there was no evidence of malice on the company’s part sufficient to warrant the punitive damages award.
Appeals Court Decision Leaves Mesothelioma Victim with Majority of Damages Awarded
In considering the pipe manufacturer’s appeal, the Court of Appeals of California reversed the punitive damages award but affirmed the rest of the jury’s decision, concluding that the testimony provided had been sufficient to support the jury’s decision that asbestos in products sold or supplied by the company had been responsible for Morgan’s mesothelioma.
If you or someone you love has been diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma, you need the support of experienced professionals. For information on accessing these resources, contact the Patient Advocates at Mesothelioma.net today at 1-800-692-8608.