Jury Awards $12.6M to Homeowner with Intermittent Exposure to Asbestos
Do-It-Yourselfer Remodeled 12-15 Properties During the 1960s-70s
LOS ANGELES — June 23, 2006 — A Los Angeles County jury yesterday awarded $12.6 million in compensatory damages to a man suffering from malignant mesothelioma as a result of repairs he made on a dozen or so homes that he owned during the mid-1960s and late 1970s.
The verdict represents one of the largest-ever asbestos awards in Los Angeles County. Bondex International Corporation was assessed 20-percent liability for the 71-year-old man’s terminal illness. The award included $12.0 million for pain and suffering, and $600,000 for medical expenses. The jury was not permitted to consider punitive damages.
The plaintiff, who immigrated to the United States in 1961, worked as a banker for more than a decade with plans to earn a Ph.D. and work with at-risk youth. During this time, he purchased a home and several investment properties to provide income while he attended graduate school. He worked at night and on weekends to fix up the properties, usually enlisting the help of his brothers. His young son was often at his side.
The recollections of these close family members proved essential to the case, because the plaintiff, who has had a lung removed, requires a ventilator and lives with intractable pain, was too ill to testify. The son and the brothers all recalled the dust generated when mixing and sanding the joint compound — dust filled with asbestos particles that the plaintiff inhaled.
“This is a huge victory for consumers,” said Andy Waters, founding partner of Waters & Kraus and one of four WK attorneys representing the plaintiff. “The jury clearly sent the message that manufacturers must have a heightened sense of responsibility to warn and protect customers from the dangers of their products.”
“We are pleased for the family,” commented Gary Paul of counsel as he emerged from the courtroom. “This man came to the United States seeking the American dream. He did everything right. He worked hard. Raised a family. Bought a few investment properties. Earned that Ph.D. Now, at the time of his life that he should be enjoying the fruits of his labor with his family, he instead faces a death sentence of the worst kind. Justice was served today.”
About Waters & Kraus, LLP
Waters & Kraus, LLP, is a plaintiffs’ firm concentrating on complex product liability and personal injury/wrongful death cases. The firm’s diverse practice includes toxic tort litigation, pharmaceutical product liability, malpractice and negligence, and consumer product liability, as well as qui tam (whistleblower), employment and labor, insurance and commercial litigation. With offices in California and Texas, Waters & Kraus has litigated cases in jurisdictions across the United States on behalf of individuals from all 50 states, as well as foreign governments.