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New York Trial Court Sides With Ford – Sets Aside $11 Million Asbestos Verdict

Arthur Juni worked as a mechanic for nearly fifty years for Orange & Rockland Utilities. He began his employment as a 3rd Class automobile repairman, eventually moving up to become a 1st Class mechanic, and over the years he was exposed to asbestos, first as a bystander as other mechanics worked on vehicle brakes and eventually performing the brake and clutch repairs on the company’s vehicles himself. He developed mesothelioma and died during the course of jury selection in a trial that awarded him $11 million from the Ford Motor Company. That amount included $8 million for the pain and suffering that he endured, as well as $3 million for the loss of consortium suffered by his widow. But this week a New York trial court set aside that verdict, agreeing with a defense motion that suggested that the expert testimony provided during trial did not met the legal quantification requirement for toxic tort cases that has previously been established by precedent.

The precedent-setting case referred to in the appeal was Parker v. Mobil Oil Corp., which held that plaintiffs are required to provide some kind of quantifiable exposure in order to show causation. The court ruled that the expert testimony provided in Juni’s case did not satisfy that standard. The plaintiff’s attorneys argued that in asbestos cases, the same standard should not be used.

Ford had initially defended itself at trial by indicating that Juni’s work had not exposed him to asbestos, and that the brakes, clutches and gaskets on the Ford Motor vehicles on which he worked did not contain the toxic material. They also indicated that even if he had been exposed to asbestos, it would not have increased his mesothelioma risk. Though the jury decided against the automotive giant and for the plaintiff, Ford filed post-trial motions challenging these issues. The court ended up striking all of the opinions provided by the plaintiff’s expert witnesses, despite the plaintiff’s attorneys argument that Parker was not the precedent that should be applied to an asbestos case – instead the court should rely on the Lustenring case, which indicated that visible asbestos dust was enough to cause mesothelioma injury.

The court indicated that after the expert testimony was set aside, there was “no valid line of reasoning or permissible inference which could have led the jury to reach its result.”

Terri Oppenheimer

Terri Oppenheimer is an independent writer, editor and proofreader. She graduated from the College of William and Mary with a degree in English. Her dreams of a writing career were diverted by a need to pay her bills. She spent a few years providing copy for a major retailer, then landed a lucrative career in advertising sales. With college bills for all three of her kids paid, she left corporate America for a return to her original goal of writing. She specializes in providing content for websites and finds tremendous enjoyment in the things she learns while doing her research. Her specific areas of interest include health and fitness, medical research, and the law.

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