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David Lanpher served as an electrician’s mate in the U.S. Navy from 1954 until he was honorably discharged in 1973. During his tenure, he worked in engineering spaces aboard multiple vessels. Via video deposition, he recalled handling various engine parts and components, including asbestos-containing insulating boards and motor control units. He recounted cutting and drilling asbestos-containing phenolic insulating boards contained within Allen-Bradley’s electrical products, and the resulting dust that he regularly breathed. He was diagnosed with malignant pleural mesothelioma in August 2007, and died in July 2008. Defense counsel offered evidence that the products in question were not on the Navy’s Qualified Parts List (QPL), and that testing by their expert showed that the asbestos subcomponents were encapsulated in a material that could not be breached in the way Mr. Lanpher described. Plaintiff’s counsel countered by observing that the testing did not replicate Mr. Lanpher’s work precisely, and presenting evidence that the manufacturer knew of the dangers of asbestos in the 1960s, but considered its products safe despite never testing it.
Phase I – February 19, 2010 and Phase II – March 5, 2010
$6.5 million, as follows:
$2.0 million to the estate under the Survival Act
$1.0 million to the estate and
$3.5 million to the widow under the Wrongful Death Act
*The case proceeded to a Phase II liability jury trial, where Rockwell Automation, Inc. as the successor corporation to Allen-Bradley – and the lone remaining defendant of eight manufacturers found liable – was apportioned a prorated 1/8 (12.5%) liability.
First-ever asbestos-exposure verdict against Rockwell Automation, Inc.
Substantial award given the nature of the reverse bifurcated trial, where Phase I determines only whether the plaintiff’s illness was caused by asbestos exposure and reasonable damages. Plaintiff’s counsel may not discuss specific damage amounts, and defendants remain unknown until Phase II.
Case involved electrical parts, which are a less-known-about product category than the mechanical parts typically at the heart of navy asbestos cases.
Cause No. 003698
Lanpher vs. Alfa Laval, Inc., et al
Trial length: Phase I – 2.5 weeks, Phase II – 1.5 weeks
Philadelphia, Pa., Court of Common Pleas
Hon. Sheldon C. Jelin, presiding
Plaintiff’s Experts (live testimony)
Capt. Francis Burger (U.S. Navy, ret.), Navy expert
John Maddox, M.D., pathologist
Gordon Yu, M.D., pathologist
Daniel Sherman, M.D., pulmonologist
Defense Experts (live testimony)
Cmdr. Thomas McCaffery (U.S. Navy, ret.), Navy expert
Jeffrey Giacomin, Ph.D., mechanical engineer
Waters Kraus & Paul, LLP (Dallas, Baltimore):
Troyce G. Wolf (lead), Demetrios T. Zacharopoulos (co-counsel)
Shein Law Center, LTD (Phila.): Benjamin P. Shein (local counsel)
Goldfein and Joseph, PC (Phila.):
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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