Court Confirms Mesothelioma Verdict Against Pabst, Boosts Award to $13.4 Million

In 2021, a Wisconsin court found Pabst Brewing Company liable for the mesothelioma death of Gerald E. Lorbiecki, who’d worked as a pipe fitter at a Pabst facility from the 1970s to the early 2000s.  Both the widow and the asbestos company appealed the decision: The company argued that the jury was wrong in finding it guilty and the widow argued that the compensation was calculated incorrectly.  This week an appeals court rejected the company’s argument and increased the damages to $13.4 million.


Panel Confirms Jury’s Decision on Pabst Brewing Mesothelioma Liability

Mr. Lorbiecki’s estate had accused the company of negligence in his mesothelioma death, and a jury agreed. Pabst appealed this decision, asserting that the evidence it had presented in its own defense was strong enough for the jury’s decision to be set aside. It also argued that it had been inappropriate for the jury to be told that they were allowed to draw a negative inference about records having been destroyed in 1985 and that information about prior mesothelioma complaints should not have been admitted.

The appellate court rejected each of Pabst’s arguments, noting that the mesothelioma trial jury had been free to accept or reject the evidence the company had submitted. They also said that the company had invited instructions about the inference by having its corporate representative state that he could not answer questions about the company’s history because the documents had been discarded. Finally, they indicated that allegations of prior mesothelioma complaints were relevant to show routine practice and the presence of asbestos at the company’s sites. 

Panel Increases Mesothelioma Widow’s Damages Award

By contrast, the panel agreed with the arguments put forward by the mesothelioma widow, writing that Wisconsin’s punitive damages statute limits punitive damages to double the total award rather than the company’s share of the award after fault was apportioned. This meant that rather than Pabst owing the family $6.9 million, they now owe the family $13.4 million.

Though Pabst argued that the $13.4 million mesothelioma calculation led to an absurd result, the panel noted that the company had not objected to a $20 million award they were also told to pay the state. 

If your family has been affected by malignant mesothelioma, having knowledgeable representatives working on your behalf can make all the difference. Contact the Patient Advocates at at 1-800-692-8608 to put a strong team on your side.

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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