Every asbestos lawyer knows that getting a big jury verdict doesn’t actually mean you won anything. Asbestos companies always appeal their losses, and the appellate courts can easily wipe out a great asbestos verdict. In fact, they often do. So I was happy to see an asbestos plaintiff win an appeal.
In November of 2010, the Second District Court of Appeal for California upheld a $9.2 million dollar mesothelioma verdict. That award included $6 million dollars in punitive damages. If an award of punitive damages is too large, appellate courts will often overturn the verdict.
This mesothelioma lawsuit was filed by an individual who worked as a construction worker beginning in the 1960’s. He worked around large amounts of joint compound, including joint compound that contained asbestos fibers mined by Union Carbide Corporation. Joint compounds in the 1960’s and 1970’s often contained asbestos. The process of sanding drywall seams releases massive quantities of asbestos fibers, and thus individuals who worked in the construction trades often developed illnesses from exposure to asbestos.
Union Carbide Corporation was found to be 85% at fault, and Hamilton Materials was found to be 15% at fault. Together, the companies will be 100% responsible for satisfying the entire $9.2 million dollar verdict.
Not all asbestos lawsuits end with such a large verdict, but many against Union Carbide in particular have. That’s because there is quite a bit of evidence that Union Carbide sold raw asbestos (they called theirs Calidria) well past the point in time when they knew that raw asbestos could cause mesothelioma, asbestosis, and other cancers.
The name of the case is Larry R. Stewart, et al., v. Union Carbide Corporation, No. B216193,
Calif. App., 2nd Dist., Div. 5; 2010 Cal. App.