judge's gavel and books

Gasket/Packing Manufacturer Prevails after Jury Trial

Court:  United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts

Decedent Arnold L. Pritt was diagnosed with singular mesothelioma, epithelioid type in September 2019. He alleged he was exposed to asbestos during his service in the U.S. Navy and as a civilian electrician. During his service, Pritt served aboard the USS Purdy as a machinist mate from December 1961 to August 1964. He often installed asbestos sheet gaskets and removed and replaced valve and pump packing. He alleged exposure to a number of manufacturer’s gaskets, flanges, pumps, and valves, amongst other products.

At trial, only John Crane Inc. remained as the final defendant. Plaintiff alleged decedent suffered exposure from the Crane’s gaskets and packing. Crane argued that it manufactured these products in accordance with military standards and military specifications. Crane relied on the government contractor defense to argue plaintiff’s claims were barred by the government.

The Massachusetts District Court ruled plaintiff could file an amended complaint to add a survival claim under maritime law. Nevertheless, it determined plaintiff could not pursue loss of consortium or punitive damages through an amended complaint.  Plaintiff appealed this decision the United States Court of Appeals First Circuit, who ruled it did not have jurisdiction over the issue. 

Finally, prior to trial, the Massachusetts District Court ruled on a number of motions in limine, including denying Crane’s motion to preclude plaintiff’s expert opinion concerning the cumulative dose theory of causation. It also granted in part and denied in part plaintiff’s motion in limine to preclude Crane from attempting to establish or imply negligence on the party of the Navy or insolvent non-party asbestos product manufacturers. 

On May 23, following eight days of testimony, the jury deliberated for a single day before returning its decision in favor of Crane. 

Read the full decision here.