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From Products Liability Law Daily, March 24, 2015

Supplier of asbestos products hit with $4 million verdict

By Susan Lasser, J.D.

A jury in Oneida County, New York, recently awarded $4 million to a plant worker after the jury found that a supplier of asbestos-containing products was responsible for the worker’s development of mesothelioma and lung cancer caused by his exposure to asbestos. The award, the largest asbestos verdict rendered in Oneida County, is also the largest asbestos verdict in New York against a distributor of asbestos products, according to a press release issued by the worker’s law firm, Belluck & Fox, LLP (Dominick v. A.O. Smith Water Products, March 18, 2015, Merrell, C.).

Background. Nicholas Dominick worked at the Chicago Pneumatic tool manufacturing plant in Utica, New York, as an internal grinder between 1968 and 1973. He asserted that he developed pleural mesothelioma and lung cancer as a result of his exposure to bags of asbestos and asbestos boards supplied by Pacemaker Steel & Piping Company, the successor-in-interest to Charles Millar Supply Company. These products were used in the plant’s annealing process. The worker’s complaint alleged a number of causes of action, including those sounding in negligence, strict liability, and breach of warranty.

At trial, Dominick’s attorneys presented evidence from a number of experts regarding the use of asbestos in heat treatment annealing processes, the causation of the worker’s mesothelioma and lung cancer, the state-of-the-art evidence relating to the dangers of asbestos, and testimony about the cancers’ impact on Dominick.

Jury verdict. The jury agreed with the worker and rendered a $4 million verdict for Dominick on March 18. It found that Pacemaker/Charles Millar was negligent in failing to warn Dominick about the dangers of asbestos associated with the products it supplied. The Dominick family was awarded $1 million for past pain and suffering and $3 million for future pain and suffering. In addition, the jury assessed 30% of the fault to Pacemaker/Charles Millar. Other manufacturers/suppliers which the jury found were at fault, along with the percentage of fault the jury assigned each were as follows:

  • Caterpillar Inc.—20%

  • International/Navistar—9%

  • Mack Trucks—9%

  • Case Corp./CNH Industrial America—2%

  • G.H. Miner Co., Inc.—15%

  • Syracuse Supply Co.—15%

The case is No. CA2014-000232.

Attorneys: Joe Belluck (Belluck & Fox LLP) for Nicholas Dominick. Robert Cahalan (Smith, Sovik, Kendrick & Sugnet PC) for Pacemaker Steel & Piping Co.

Companies: Pacemaker Steel & Piping Co.

MainStory: TopStory AsbestosNews WarningsNews DamagesNews NewYorkNews

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