Arthur Putt’s decades of working as an auto mechanic at gas stations in California and Indiana resulted in significant exposure to asbestos, and he was eventually diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma. When he and his wife filed lawsuits against the various companies that manufactured the asbestos brake pads he worked with, all but Ford Motor Company settled with the couple, providing them a total of $2,280,000. At trial the jury found Ford guilty of negligence and awarded the Putts another $8.5 million in compensatory damages and $25.5 million in punitive damages. Ford appealed the entire verdict and the Court of Appeals of California said that the compensatory damages award should stand, but agreed with Ford that the award should be reallocated between all of the defendants. The case will go back for reconsideration, but only regarding how much of the damages amount each of the defendants has to pay.
Dust From Brakes Blamed for Mesothelioma
During the jury trial, Mr. Putt explained how he was exposed to the asbestos that caused his mesothelioma. He described removing used brake pads and using an air compressor to blow away debris, then sanding down the brake pads before installing them. He went into great detail about the dust that the process created, and that he inhaled constantly.
The jury head that the brake pads came from cars manufactured by Ford, Chevrolet and Dodge/Chrysler, and that he had removed factory installed pads as well as pads that were the second or third installed in the cars. Liability was determined to belong to the manufacturer even though the replacement brakes were manufactured by third parties, and since Ford was the only defendant left at the time of the trial, they were the company that the jury held responsible for the full amount of the damages.
Ford’s Appeal of Mesothelioma Verdict
When Ford appealed the verdict, they asked for a new trial on the damages as well as on the way that liability for Mr. Putt’s mesothelioma was apportioned. In reviewing all of the details of the trial and of the instructions provided to the jury, the Court of Appeals of California determined that the jury instructions may have been erroneous but weren’t prejudicial. They felt that there was no reason for a new trial as to the facts of the case or the verdict, but that apportionment between the different companies should be reconsidered. The couple will be able to receive the damages that the jury agreed to, but it may come from a combination of asbestos companies instead of just from Ford.
If you or someone you love has been diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma and you need information about pursuing justice or any other resources available to you, contact the Patient Advocates at Mesothelioma.net today at 1-800-692-8608.