Verdicts & Settlements · March 9, 2001
California Daily Journal
Adam Mintz vs. WWC Corporation
Result: March 09, 2001
LA Superior Central West , Dept. 310
HON Ricardo A. Torres
Topic: Personal Injury (Non-Vehicular)
Sub topic: Product Liability
Sub-sub topic: Asbestos Exposure
Jury verdict: Defense
Plaintiff- Gilbert L. Purcell, Brayton & Purcell, Novato
Plaintiff- Carolyn K. Shining, Brayton & Purcell, Novato
Defendant- Marc C. Forsythe, Goe & Forsythe, Newport Beach
Defendant- Jeffrey S. Benice, Law Offices of Jeffrey S. Benice, Irvine
Plaintiff- Barry R. Horn MD, pulmonologist, Berkeley
Plaintiff- Allan R. Smith MD, epidemiologist, Berkeley
Plaintiff- Barry Ben-Zion Ph.D., economist, Santa Rosa
Plaintiff- Kenneth Cohen industrial hygienist, El Cajon
Plaintiff- Carol Hyland M.A., vocational rehabilitation, Sacramento
Plaintiff- James Millette material scientist, Atlanta
Defendant- Patrick F. Kennedy Ph.D., economist, San Diego
Defendant- Rick A. Sarkisian Ph.D., vocational rehabilitation, Fresno
Facts: The plaintiff, 32, was diagnosed with fatal peritoneal mesothelioma cancer in January 2000. The plaintiff is not expected to live beyond six months. The plaintiff contended that he contracted the cancer after being exposed to asbestos in the 4th through 8th grades. The plaintiff claimed the latency period for the development of mesothelioma after asbestos exposure is 10 to 15 years. The plaintiff contended that he assisted his mother two to three times per week, after school in loading and unloading a ceramics class kiln. The plaintiff’s mother was the art class teacher/instructor. The plaintiff claimed that he wore asbestos gloves when loading and unloading the kiln. The plaintiff’s mother testified that she purchased the asbestos gloves from the defendant.
Contentions: The plaintiff contended that the defendant was the distributor of the asbestos gloves he wore when assisting his mother and that the gloves were defective and released asbestos fibers. The plaintiff’s mother testified that she ordered the gloves from the defendant by use of defendant’s catalog when she organized the art class in 1979. The plaintiff also contended that he had graduated second in his class from a prestigious chef’s school and had been offered high-paying jobs as an assistant chef by the Bellagio hotel in Las Vegas and other fine-dining restaurants. The defendant argued that the plaintiff’s and his mother’s memories that the asbestos gloves were purchased from the defendant were mistaken. The defendant argued that no evidence existed that the asbestos gloves were purchased from the defendant. The defendant also argued that the plaintiff failed to present evidence proving that the asbestos gloves were a substantial factor in causing the plaintiff’s mesothelioma. The defendant further argued that the plaintiff had other possible exposures to asbestos during his lifetime, which fell within the ten-year latency period for the development of mesothelioma. Finally, the defendant argued that the plaintiff’s theory that mesothelioma can only be contracted by asbestos exposure was incorrect.
Jury trial: Length 10 days; Poll 9-3; Deliberation six hours
Settlement Discussions: The plaintiff demanded $1 million before trial. The defendant made a C.C.P. Section 998 offer of $10,000.
Post Trial Motions: The plaintiff moved for judgment notwithstanding the verdict and motion for new trial.
Other Information: The defendant’s lead trial counsel, Jeffrey S. Benice, was retained only three weeks prior to trial. The defendant was originally one of 30 other defendants in the case. 30 days before trial, all other defendants settled or were dismissed from the action, leaving only defendant WWC Corporation. During pretrial rulings, WWC Corporation’s medical causation experts were barred from testifying. Thus, defendant’s case was tried without the benefit of medical causation experts to rebut the plaintiff’s expert testimony.
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