$38 Million Jury Verdict in Asbestos Exposure Suit

Asbestos exposure attorneys at Pintas & Mullins Law Firm report on a recent jury award against Durco International and two other companies for exposing a man to the carcinogen. The man, Lloyd Strom Garvin, was exposed to asbestos through his work with gaskets, valves and pumps in heavy machinery.

The other defendants named in his suit include Crane Co. and Byron Jackson Pump Co., who manufactured some of the asbestos-containing materials at one point or another. Due to his exposure, Garvin developed mesothelioma, an extraordinarily fatal cancer, which eventually spread into testicular cancer.

Crane and Durco were each hit with $11 million in punitive damages, and Byron ordered to pay $5 million. The actual damages award totaled $11 million, with $1 million awarded to Garvin’s wife for loss of consortium (normal relations between husband and wife). Other companies originally named in his suit (CBS Corp., Union Carbide Corp., Deere & Co., among several others) settled with Garvin before the case went to trial.

Throughout his case Garvin argued that all named defendants knew or reasonably should have known about the dangers of asbestos exposure, particularly in employees who work with these products every day over long periods of time. He argued that the companies fraudulently failed to warn consumers and employees on the risks of using their products. At the time the trial was taking place (September 2013) Garvin had been told he had less than one year to live. He is 74 years old.

Garvin worked on and operated heavy equipment in the cities of Wagener, Aiken and West Columbia, South Carolina, and on his family farm. All three defendants are major companies that sell gaskets, pumps and valves to factories and farms throughout the U.S. and abroad.

Crane Co. was recently hit with a similar jury award, this time the result of a lawsuit filed by a U.S. Navy veteran diagnosed with pleural mesothelioma. The veteran also named Elliott Turbomachinery Co., ultimately winning $32 million for his asbestos exposure and consequent cancer diagnosis.

The trial took place in New York State, as that is where the veteran worked performing maintenance on at least seven U.S. Navy ships between 1960 and 1977. These seventeen years fall in the midst of the period of time that asbestos was most abundantly used in the United States. Asbestos is a naturally-occurring mineral known for its extraordinary resistance to heat and pressure. It is also extremely inexpensive, which is why many developing nations are still using asbestos despite global efforts to ban it completely.

The New York jury found that the veteran was exposed to asbestos while performing maintenance on valves manufactured by Crane and deareating feed tanks produced by Elliott. They allocated 99% responsibility to Crane and 1% to Elliott. Federal law forbids veterans to sue the U.S. government for toxic substance exposure, and Crane attempted to argue that the government was actually at fault for not insulating Crane’s valves. This issue is present in many Navy veteran asbestos exposure cases, often referred to as the “government contractor defense.”

After it was very publicly revealed (through employee lawsuits) that the substance directly caused an extremely devastating form of cancer, the United States banned the mining and exportation of it and significantly reduced its use in common consumer products. The U.S. does, however,continue to import asbestos by the tons, as it is applied in small amounts in products for which no alternative to asbestos has yet been found.

Workers at highest risk of asbestos exposure are by far those in the construction industry, who demolish or renovate buildings constructed before the 1979 national asbestos ban. Other demographics at an increased risk are Navy veterans and those employed in shipyards, automobile mechanics, those working with heavy machinery, and pipe-fitters. The Navy veteran awarded $32 million worked primarily in ship boiler and fire rooms.

Mesothelioma lawyers at Pintas & Mullins Law Firm are currently reviewing and accepting cases involving exposure to asbestos on the job. If you or a loved one developed mesothelioma or lung cancer from occupational exposure to asbestos, you probably have many questions regarding your exposure and legal avenues. We understand your concerns and can help you find the answers you seek. Contact a qualified asbestos exposure attorney today for a free legal consultation.

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