Iowa Supreme Court Clarifies Issues in Appeal of $6.5 Million Verdict Supreme Court of Iowa, June 1, 2018

IOWA — In 2014, the Estate of Larry Kinseth prevailed in a trial against boiler manufacturer, Weil-McLain, in Iowa District Court for Wright County. The plaintiff was awarded $4 million in compensatory damages, of which Weil-McLain was assessed 25 percent liability. The plaintiff then successfully argued for the application of punitive damages against Weil-McLain, and the jury awarded $2.5million in that phase of the trial. Weil-McLain appealed, based mostly on the conduct of the plaintiff’s counsel during closing arguments, and was successful on appeal in…
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Five Million Dollar Mesothelioma Punitive Damages Award Upheld U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, March 29, 2018

ARIZONA — Plaintiff Goerge Coulbourn was a machinist for the United States Navy from 1959 to 1966, during which time he worked with several products sold by defendant Crane Company that contained “significant amounts of asbestos.” The plaintiff sued Crane, alleging, amongst other things, that Crane’s products were defective in failing to warn of the dangers that asbestos posed. The plaintiff died in August 2013, and his wife, Sandra Coulbourn, filed an amended complaint on behalf of herself and her family, asserting a claim for…
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U.S. Supreme Court Denies Certiorari for Appeal of Punitive Damages Award U.S. Supreme Court, March 26, 2018

MISSOURI — In the matter of Jeannette G. Poage vs. Crane Co., Docket No. 17-900, the Missouri Court of Appeals, Eastern District, Crane Co. affirmed, among other things, the lower’s court punitive damages award in favor of plaintiff. Crane Co. appealed to the Supreme Court, requesting the high court address two key issues:  (1) Whether the due process clause requires appellate review that considers factors undermining the reasonableness of the punitive damages award; and (2) whether the due process clause prohibits a punitive damages…
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Missouri Appeals Court Affirms $10M Punitive Damage Award Against Valve Manufacturer Missouri Court of Appeals, Eastern District, May 2, 2017

Jeannette G. Poage, the plaintiff, filed a products liability suit against defendant Crane Co. in the Circuit Court of the City of St. Louis, alleging that her husband, James E. Poage, suffered personal injuries and wrongful death from mesothelioma, which was caused from Mr. Poage’s work with the defendant’s products. Mr. Poage served in the U.S. Navy from 1954-58 as a machinist on the USS Haynesworth where he helped maintain the valves on the ship that required replacing gaskets and packing. The plaintiff alleged that…
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Boiler Manufacturer Granted New Trial Due to Plaintiff’s Counsel’s Comments in Closing Arguments Court of Appeals of Iowa, April 19, 2017

Defendant Weil McLain appealed the jury’s award of damages and punitive damages to plaintiffs to the Iowa Court of Appeals. The appeal stems from the death of Larry Kinseth as a result of his alleged exposure to asbestos containing products. Mr. Kinseth worked in the heating and plumbing industry beginning in 1957. As part of his work, he tore out old boilers and installed new boilers, both in residential and commercial applications. At the time, Mr. Kinseth was working in the heating and plumbing industry,…
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California Appellate Court Reverses $3.6M Punitive Damages Award Court of Appeal of California, Second Appellate District, Division One, February 15, 2017

In November 2005, after William Saller was diagnosed with mesothelioma, the plaintiffs filed suit naming 22 defendants, including the manufacturers of various asbestos products. After Saller passed away in February 2006, his wife and daughters added a wrongful death claim and continued the lawsuit. In 2007, the plaintiffs proceeded to trial against two remaining defendants: Crown Cork and Bondex International, Inc. The jury returned a defense verdict, rejecting the plaintiffs’ strict liability design defect claim and their negligent failure-to-warn claim. The plaintiffs appealed and the…
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Court Provides Mixed Ruling on Motions for Summary Judgment on Punitive Damages Brought by Boiler Manufacturers Court of Common Pleas of Lackawanna County, Pennsylvania, July 26, 2016

The Court of Common Pleas of Lackawanna County in Pennsylvania recently ruled on partial motions for summary judgment with respect to punitive damages asserted by the paintiffs, Robert Horst, Jr. and Diane Horst. Defendants filing said motions included Burnham, LLC , Lennox Industries, Inc., and Weil-McLain. The court stated that, in Pennsylvania, a punitive damages claim must be supported by evidence sufficient to establish that (1) a defendant had a subjective appreciation of the risk of harm to which the plaintiff was exposed and that…
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Court Issues Significant Verdict Reduction Based in Part on Jury Error of Finding Intentional Misrepresentation and Fraudulent Concealment Superior Court of California, Los Angeles County, July 18, 2016

In a case previously reported on in ACT, a California jury found for the plaintiffs, Louis Tyler and Elizabeth Tyler and against defendant American Optical Corporation (AOC), the lone defendant remaining at trial, with an award of $22.8 million. This award consisted of $1.8 million in economic damages (medical expenses, lost income, household services, etc.) and $21 million in non-economic damages. The jury also found that AOC acted with malice, oppression and fraud, and awarded $10 million in punitive damages. The overall verdict totaled…
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Court Denies Honeywell’s Appeal on Expert and Causation Challenges and Reverses Directed Verdict on Punitive Damages in Plaintiff’s Favor Court of Appeals of Ohio, May 26, 2016

The defendant, Honeywell International appealed the judgment entered upon a jury verdict that found Honeywell was five percent responsible for the injuries of the decedent Kathleen Schwartz, who died from peritoneal mesothelioma. The amount of the judgment against Honeywell was $1,011,639.92. The plaintiffs filed a cross-appeal challenging the trial court’s decision to grant a directed verdict against them on their claim for punitive damages. Honeywell’s appeal challenged the trial court’s denial of motions in limine and the court’s denial of a motion for directed verdict.…
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U.S. District Court of Connecticut Denies Motion to Dismiss Punitive Damages Count Based on Sufficiency of Pleading U.S. District Court for the District of Connecticut, May 4, 2016

In this case pending in the U.S. District Court for the District of Connecticut, the plaintiffs’ third count of their complaint alleges reckless conduct by the defendants and seeks punitive damages. Defendant Aurora Pump Company moved to dismiss this count, arguing that the plaintiff failed to assert specific allegations of recklessness. The court noted, however, that the plaintiff alleges that the defendants manufactured, distributed, sold or otherwise placed into the stream of commerce products which contained asbestos and that the defendants intentionally and fraudulently concealed…
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