CALIFORNIA — The estate of Velma Searcy (plaintiffs) filed suit in the Superior Court of Los Angeles for the personal injuries and subsequent death of Velma Searcy at age 51. The plaintiffs argued that Searcy’s mesothelioma diagnosis and death was caused from occupational exposure to asbestos through Searcy’s work as an electrician in the aerospace industry. The plaintiffs’ claims also included allegations of take-home asbestos exposure as a child watching her father perform brake changes on various vehicles. Most of the defendants either settled with the plaintiff or were dismissed prior to trial.
Dexter Hysol Aerospace LLC, as the lone remaining defendant, proceeded to trial on two main defenses: (1) Searcy’s mesothelioma diagnosis was not accurate and her disease was not caused by asbestos exposure, and (2) even if it was, Searcy wasn’t exposed to Dexter’s products as the alleged products were not used in Searcy’s workplace. The plaintiffs, in putting on their case, had asked the jury to award $21.6 million plus punitive damages. Also, the parties stipulated to $1.6 million in damages and allowed the jury to award more if they felt it was warranted.
In a somewhat rare result for an asbestos trial, the Los Angeles jury agreed with Dexter’s first argument, disputing the plaintiff’s diagnosis, and found that Searcy’s mesothelioma and subsequent death was not in fact caused by asbestos. Accordingly, Dexter received a defense verdict and was cleared of any liability.