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September 2015

Gordon & Rees Team Obtains Defense Verdict in a Wrongful Death Asbestosis Case Tried in California

Gordon & Rees Senior Counsel Ian Williamson and Kevin Whelan combined to obtain a defense verdict in Los Angeles (Pasadena) on behalf of a commercial plumbing supplier alleged to have sold and distributed various asbestos products in the Los Angeles area. Plaintiffs sought wrongful death damages from approximately forty defendants in a claim arising from the undisputed asbestosis death of a former employee. The represented supplier was the sole defendant at trial.

The key dispute at trial was whether the supplier had sold asbestos-containing plumbing products to decedent’s employer – Children’s Hospital Los Angeles – during a 1969-1971 timeframe. Plaintiffs presented a life-long friend and former co-worker of decedent who claimed that the supplier was a primary supplier to Children’s Hospital starting in 1968. Defendant presented the alleged salesperson – who had left the company in 1978 – who testified that he had not joined the company until 1969 and not made any outside sales calls at all until 1970. Further he testified that he has no recollection of ever having made any sales to Children’s Hospital.

Plaintiff counsel suggested to the jury non-economic damages in the range of 4 to 8 million dollars. Plaintiffs sought $787,000 in economic damages and unspecified non-economic damages. Plaintiffs urged an allocation of at least 50% of fault against the supplier.

The jury returned a defense verdict after deliberating less than two hours, finding that the plaintiffs had failed to establish that the sole remaining defendant had sold any asbestos-containing products to the decedent’s employer in the relevant time-frame.

Kevin E. Whelan
Ian G. Williamson



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