$26.54 Million Verdict in Wrongful Death Case against Brewing Company

Milwaukee County Circuit Court

The decedent, Gerald “Jerry” Lorbiecki, was a steamfitter who worked at a number of job sites over the better part of four decades prior to his death from mesothelioma. Attorneys for the decedent argued that two of these locations—Pabst Brewing Co. and Wisconsin Electric—were “negligent in protecting employees from asbestos exposure and violated Wisconsin’s Safe Place Act.” Wisconsin Electric settled with Mr. Lorbiecki’s estate prior to trial.

In closing arguments, lawyers for Pabst argued that company safety officials were unaware of the dangers associated with asbestos exposure in the 1970s because they were focusing on brewing magazines, and not focusing on peer-reviewed published literature. A press release issued by the Lorbiecki’s attorney stated, in part, that “there were OSHA violations in 1986 for asbestos falling off exposed pipes in the brewery workers’ lunchroom.”

On October 6, 2021, the jury awarded $6.54 million in actual damages and $20 million in punitive damages to the Lorbiecki family.