Jack Papineau traces his malignant mesothelioma to the asbestos he was exposed to when he worked as a Class C oiler mechanic. Between 1984 and 1993 he had worked at three different surface mine sites in Western Kentucky, and he and his wife filed suit against Brake Supply Company, Inc., accusing the company of selling his employers asbestos-contaminated parts that they knew were dangerous. Though the company attempted to exclude expert witnesses who supported the couple’s claims and have the entire case dismissed, the judges of the United States District Court of the Western District of Kentucky denied much of their motion, indicating that though some of the testimony should be limited, genuine issues of material fact remain for resolution by a jury.
Mesothelioma Victim Performed Hundreds of Brake Jobs
Saying he’d performed more than 200 brake jobs using Brake Supply’s products, Mr. Papineau and his wife filed suit seeking compensation for the past and future damages they would suffer related to his mesothelioma. Brake Supply argued that there was insufficient evidence that he had encountered asbestos from their products, and that as a distributor they were legally protected from liability by the Kentucky Middleman Statute.
The evidence of asbestos exposure presented by the mesothelioma victim was compelling. He provided testimony about the work he did for Smith Coal, which included repeatedly disturbing brake dust, inhaling it and touching it, but questions were raised as to how much dust he would have inhaled, as well as whether he had strictly worked with products from Brake Supply or from other suppliers from which his employer had purchased friction products. Each side presented expert witnesses to testify about these questions, and each side argued that the other’s expert witness testimony should be excluded.
Judges Allow Expert Testimony from Both Sides of Mesothelioma Claim
Both the Papineaus and Brake Supply submitted a list of expert witnesses to testify on their behalf as to the amount of asbestos that can cause malignant mesothelioma, the exposure that Mr. Papineau suffered, the expectations of what his future medical care costs will be, and more. Though each side objected to the other’s witnesses, the judges largely allowed all of the testimony. They also denied Brake Supply’s argument that they were a middleman seller because they had unquestionably altered the products before being sold, but they dismissed the Papineau’s claims seeking punitive damages for gross negligence, writing that though “a jury might second-guess the way Brake Supply handled its products or navigated the industry’s transition away from asbestos,” nothing in the record would support a finding that they had “intentionally concealed, minimized, or even misrepresented” its dangers. The case will move on to a jury.
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