A mesothelioma lawsuit making its way through California’s court system has placed a spotlight on the actions of popular auto parts dealer Pep Boys. The company — whose iconic Manny, Moe and Jack logo has been a trusted symbol for countless do-it-yourselfers and hobbyists over the years — is accused of failing to warn its consumers about the risks posed by asbestos contained in Bendix brakes that it sold. Though the company filed a motion to have the case against them dismissed, their argument was rejected by the court.
Mesothelioma Victim Seeks Punitive Damages from Popular Retailer
The case against Pep Boys was filed by Renato C. Pizarro and his wife after he was diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma. They cite his regular visits to Pep Boys between 1979 and 1997 to buy asbestos-containing Bendix-brand brakes for the annual maintenance he performed on his and his family’s cars during those years. Unaware of asbestos’s dangers, he blew out brake drums and linings and installed new brakes, sanding and abrading them as part of the installation process and creating dust that he inhaled, and which later sickened him.
The couple says that the asbestos dust is the cause of his mesothelioma and are seeking punitive damages from the company, accusing them of acting with “malice and a conscious disregard to its customers, including Mr. Pizarro.” To support their claim, they rely on trial transcripts from previous asbestos cases that showed that the company was aware both that it was selling asbestos-contaminated brakes and that asbestos caused mesothelioma. The couple accuses Pep Boys of consciously disregarding the safety of its customers.
Pep Boys Argues That There is No Proof of Intention to Harm Mesothelioma Victim
Pep Boys moved to have the mesothelioma case against them dismissed, arguing that the Pizarros failed to meet the required standard of evidence that applies when seeking punitive damages from corporations, but the judge in the case disagreed. Referring to one of the state Civil Code’s definitions of “malice” in the punitive damages context as “despicable conduct which is carried on by the defendant with a willful and conscious disregard of the rights or safety of others,” he points to evidence that the company was aware of the asbestos in the brakes they sold as early as 1930 and that, despite receiving product information and warnings about asbestos’ dangers, they continued selling the products until 2001. The case will move on to a jury.
If you or someone you love has been diagnosed with mesothelioma after exposure to asbestos, the Patient Advocates at Mesothelioma.net can connect you with the resources and information you need. Contact us today at 1-800-692-8608.