$4.4M Verdict in Asbestos Bowling Ball Trial

Jury sides with the family of a former bowling alley owner who contracted mesothelioma after drilling asbestos-containing bowling balls for years.

LOS ANGELES –– A Los Angeles County jury awarded $4.4 million to the family of a former bowling alley owner, Donald Vanni. The jury found asbestos supplier Honeywell International Inc. (Honeywell) responsible for Donald Vanni’s mesothelioma and death.

“Honeywell refused to take responsibility here, and we held them accountable,” said Waters Kraus Paul & Siegel co-founder Peter Kraus. “I am so happy for the Vanni family.”

Donald Vanni was born and raised in Arcata, Calif. He and his brother co-owned and operated Arcata Bowl bowling alley for 30 years, from 1957 to 1986. Donald worked at the bowling alley seven days a week trading off opening and closing shifts with his brother. One of Donald’s responsibilities was drilling custom-fit finger holes in the bowling balls that the Arcata Bowl sold.

Asbestos, used as a filler in plastic Ebonite bowling balls, was supplied by Honeywell in the form of discarded brake lining dust. The brake dust was the waste product of Honeywell’s Bendix brake manufacturing plant in Troy, New York. In the late 1960s, documents show that the Bendix plant was generating 15 tons of asbestos-laden brake dust each day. But, rather than pay money to safely dispose of this asbestos-laden waste, Honeywell opted to sell it as a filler in commercial products, including Ebonite bowling balls.

Ebonite was one of the most popular balls in the 1960s and 1970s, including at the Arcata Bowl, and was endorsed by professional bowlers such as Don Carter and Earl Anthony. Donald Vanni routinely drilled Ebonite balls in a small room, with no protection, for years. No one ever told the Vannis that the Ebonite balls contained asbestos.

Donald was in good health until he was diagnosed with pericardial mesothelioma in 2012. He and his wife had lived an active lifestyle. They would regularly go fishing, golf, and were active members in their Church. The Vannis also enjoyed sporting and entertainment events, and visiting their grandchildren. Donald died of mesothelioma in 2013, leaving behind two adult sons and his wife of 55 years.

The jury found that Honeywell’s asbestos waste presented “a danger to persons using the products as intended.” They said that Defendant Honeywell failed to adequately warn of the potential risks and Honeywell’s negligence was a substantial contributor to Donald’s mesothelioma.

“This was completely preventable. The Vanni family should not have lost Don nine years early due to Honeywell’s greed. Asbestos brake dust should have never gone into a single bowling ball,” said Sam Iola, an attorney at Waters Kraus Paul & Siegel who represented the Vannis at trial, along with Michael Connett and Jonathan George.

“The verdict serves as a reminder that, in our civil justice system, a jury of 12 peers can still hold the nation’s largest corporations to account,” said Michael Connett.

On April 19, 2019, the jury awarded $4,397,716 to the Vanni family, finding Honeywell International Inc., 40 percent liable. The case is Case No: BC544355/JCCP4674; Barbara Vanni, et al. vs. AMF Bowling Centers, Inc., et al., Los Angeles Superior Court.

About Waters Kraus Paul & Siegel

Waters Kraus Paul & Siegel is a national plaintiffs’ law firm devoted to helping families in personal injury and wrongful death cases involving asbestos and mesothelioma, benzene exposure, dangerous pharmaceuticals and medical devices, birth defects caused by pesticides, toxic chemical, and semiconductor chip manufacturing. The law firm also represents plaintiffs in qui tam whistleblower matters and cases who uncover false claims submitted to the government. Based in Dallas, Texas, with offices in California, Louisiana, and by appointment in Illinois, Waters Kraus Paul & Siegel has represented families from all fifty states and many foreign countries, as well as foreign governments.

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