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A Texas jury awarded the widow of a chemical operator $19.3 million in compensatory and punitive damages on February 28, 2000. At the time it was touted as the largest single verdict against asbestos companies in a no-marker lung cancer case (no underlying asbestosis). Robert L. Durham worked as a chemical operator in close proximity to insulators and other employees working with asbestos-containing materials while at Eastman Kodak in Longview, Texas, from 1955 to 1968. Mr. Durham died of asbestos-related lung cancer in 1997, one year after diagnosis. He left behind his wife and four adult children. The Durham’s expert witnesses testified that there was no need for an underlying asbestosis diagnosis to determine that Mr. Durham’s lung cancer was caused by asbestos exposure.
February 28, 2000
$4.3 million damages
$15 million in additional punitive damages against Pittsburgh Corning
Touted as the largest single verdict against asbestos companies in a no-marker lung cancer case as of 2000.
The jury found that Pittsburgh Corning acted with malice and awarded another $15 million in punitive damages even though Texas law caps punitive damages at $750,000.
Judge ruled the punitive cap applies once.
Robert Lee Durham and Glenda Durham v. Pittsburgh Corning et al.
Cause No. 98-758-13
Gregg County, Texas, 124th District Court
Hon. Javier Alvarez, presiding
Dr. James Bruce, pathologist
Edwin Holstein, M.D., occupational medicine
Richard Lemen, Ph.D., epidemiologist
Richard Hatfield, Ph.D., materials analyst specialist
Sheldon Rabinowitz, industrial hygienist
Gayle D. Stockman, M.D.
Fredrick Toca, Ph.D., CIH
Powers & Frost, Houston, Texas (for Pittsburgh Corning)
Church & Houff, Baltimore, Maryland (for Armstrong World Industries)
R. Thomas Radcliffe, Jr.
DeHay & Elliston, Dallas, Texas (CCR companies – Armstrong World Industries, U.S. Gypsum, National Gypsum)
Disclaimer – Results obtained depend on the facts of each case. Award amounts are not actual cash amounts received by plaintiffs. Deductions are made for liens, attorney fees and expenses.
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