South Carolina Appeals Court Eases Burden of Proof in Mesothelioma Cases
A recent ruling by the South Carolina Court of Appeals both confirmed victory for a mesothelioma victim and his wife and eased the burden of proof for future victims of asbestos exposure.
Appeal of Mesothelioma Verdict Follows Lower Court’s Expansion of Jury’s Damages Award
The court’s landmark decision revolved around a mesothelioma lawsuit filed by Dale Jolly, a mechanical inspector who had worked for Duke Power Company in the 1980s. Jolly was diagnosed with the rare form of cancer after having been exposed to asbestos while working in close proximity to workers removing and replacing asbestos gaskets on the flanges of valves. Those valves were manufactured by Fisher Controls International LLC and Crosby Valves LLC, the defendants in the original case.
Jolly and his wife filed suit against both companies and received jury verdicts of $200,000 in actual damages to Jolly and $100,000 to his wife. The circuit court allowed the couple to request a new trial and increased their award to $1.6 million and $290,000 respectively. They also prohibited a setoff of part of their damages for future damages in an expected wrongful death lawsuit.
Asbestos Companies’ Appeal of Mesothelioma Lawsuit Backfires
In response to the circuit court’s decision, the companies filed an appeal that argued in part that there was no reliable evidence to prove that Jolly’s mesothelioma was caused by exposure to asbestos in their valves. They asserted that the verdict should be thrown out due to a failure to meet the state’s required burden of proof and that expert witnesses had relied on an “each and every exposure” theory of causation. The court disagreed, saying that the cumulative dose testimony provided had helped the jury to understand asbestos’ impact. This minimizes the distinction between the two, making cumulative dose a potent argument going forward in the state.
The court also rejected the company’s argument that they were protected against liability for Jolly’s mesothelioma because the danger of asbestos in the products was obvious, as well as their argument that it had been Jolly’s employer’s duty to warn him. The couple will retain the increased award and Mrs. Jolly will be able to pursue wrongful death claims in the future.
If you or someone you love has been diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma, it is important that you have powerful advocates working on your behalf. For information on how the Patient Advocates at Mesothelioma.net can help, contact us today at 1-800-692-8608.FREE Mesothelioma Packet