Jury Awards $9.7 Million to Navy Machinist

A jury in Los Angeles awarded compensation in the amount of $9.7 million to a Georgia man who said he developed malignant mesothelioma decades after he was exposed to asbestos while serving as a Navy machinist’s mate aboard the USS Preble in Long Beach.

According to an article in the San Jose Mercury News, Chief Y.R. Brewer, age 66, served aboard the ship from 1961 to 1965 and blames his disease on exposure to asbestos-packed gaskets he handled regularly while on the job.

“He was exposed to something he didn’t know was dangerous. If he had, he would have protected himself,” his wife, Gale Brewer, told the Los Angeles Daily Journal last week from Georgia.

“He feels good about it,” his wife said of the ruling. “But his health is so bad. He can’t eat, when he eats it doesn’t stay down.” Mrs. Brewer also indicated that her husband has less than a year to live.
The Brewers will not see the full amount of the award because the suit had named 12 parts manufacturers, but 11 settled before trial. Jurors found the remaining defendant, gasket maker Crane Co. of Stamford, Conn., to be 2 percent liable in the case, meaning it will be responsible for only that percentage of the award. Jurors found the Navy 50 percent liable for Brewer’s cancer, although it was not named in the suit because the U.S. government cannot be held responsible for asbestos damages.
“Crane Co. feels tremendous sympathy for the Brewer family but does not believe it caused his injury,” said Terry Budd, the company’s attorney. He indicated that Crane may appeal the verdict.

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