Indicating that he was “not sympathetic” to arguments made by Ford Motor Company against having to pay a $9.1 million mesothelioma judgment, Delaware Superior Court Judge Ferris W. Wharton rejected arguments that the auto giant was not treated well in court and deserved a new trial. The case involved the death of Larry Knecht, a New Mexico auto mechanic whose 2014 death was blamed on exposure to asbestos-laden brakes and clutches manufactured by Ford and several other defendants.
Ford Argues That Verdict Was “Irreconcilably Inconsistent” with Evidence
8 months after a 16-day trial that ended with a jury providing mesothelioma widow Paula Knecht with $40.6 million in compensatory damages, the judge rejected Ford’s argument. Ford argued that the widow’s legal team had failed to present sufficient evidence to prove that they had been responsible in any way for Mr. Knecht’s death. Ford’s legal team also objected to causation instructions that had been given to the jury. However, Ford was assessed only 20 percent responsibility for the damages. The judge countered the insufficient evidence argument by pointing out that Ford had already made this argument previously at trial, but that the decision had not gone their way. ” “What that means is that the renewed motion is not different from previous motions,” the judge said, “and the court denies it for the same reasons it denied the earlier iterations.”
Ford Also Argued that Jury was Inflamed By Testimony
In addition to arguing against its responsibility for Mr. Knecht’s mesothelioma, the auto company also argued that the verdict amount was excessive, and that the jury had been convinced by Mrs. Knecht’s attorneys, who “improperly incited bias, passion or prejudice throughout closing argument, and the admission of cumulative evidence of notice inflamed the jury and likely impacted the verdict.” Again, the judge did not agree, pointing out that his own observations as well as the verdict sheet provided no evidence of that: further, the fact that Ford was only assigned 20 percent of the responsibility for his death belied that argument. The judge pointed out that the jury had found “Mr. Knecht more culpable than Ford” for having been employed in an at-risk occupation, assigning him a greater responsibility for his mesothelioma than the company, and this made it “difficult to believe that [the] jury [was] consumed by passion, prejudice, partiality or corruption.”
Mesothelioma victims can find help and support from the medical community, the legal community and beyond. For information on the resources available to you, contact the Patient Advocates at Mesothelioma.net at 1-800-692-8608.