Asbestos Verdict Upheld

Last week, a Newport News (VA) court upheld a $3.4 million dollar verdict that had been awarded to the family of a former shipyard employee who died of asbestos-caused mesothelioma in 2005.

According to an article in the Daily Press, the court unanimously rejected an appeal by gasket maker John Crane, Inc., in the case of Garland F. ?uddy?Jones Jr., who allegedly handled asbestos-containing Crane products in the 1960s when he was employed at the Newport News shipyard.

In July 2006, a Newport News jury determined that the family deserved $10.4 million in the wrongful death suit filed by Jones against three companies that made equipment with asbestos components.

Besides John Crane, the other defendants were Denver-based Johns Manville Corp., a maker of insulation industrial materials, and Garlock Sealing Technologies of Palmyra, N.Y.

A judge reduced the jury verdict to $10 million, the amount the family initially sought. John Crane, the jury said, was responsible for $3.4 million, with Johns Manville and Garlock Sealing each responsible for $3.3 million. However, the latter two had already settled out of court, leaving Crane as the only company to go to trial.

Bob Hatten, the attorney who handled the case, said the $3.4 million verdict was among the highest in a Virginia asbestos-related case. Jones’ wife Wanda, however, will not see any of the money. She died of an unrelated cancer just a few weeks ago. Her children will be the beneficiaries.

Ansley Higginbotham, 29, Jones?daughter, said she and her two brothers are disappointed their mother didn? live to see the court uphold the verdict, but are grateful the ?reatest legal minds in Virginia?found the award just. ?t? a bittersweet day for our family,?Higginbotham said. ?t was important to our mother to receive justice in this case. She worked very tirelessly to make it happen, and I? very proud of her for seeing it through during such a difficult time. She did not allow such a big company to intimidate her.?

John Crane could still appeal the case to the U.S. Supreme Court. The company could also seek a rehearing by the Virginia Supreme Court.

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