Courtroom, Gavel And Law Books

Defense Verdict in Retrial of Packing Manufacturer

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Superior Court of California, County of San Francisco

Plaintiff Lisa Castillo filed an action in the San Francisco, California Superior Court alleging that her husband, Abraham Castillo, died of mesothelioma as a result of his exposure to asbestos during his service in the United States Navy in the 1980s and later employment as a refrigeration mechanic from 1983 to 2013. The case proceeded to trial against John Crane, Inc. on theories of negligence and design defect. The plaintiff alleged that John Crane supplied asbestos-containing packing to the U.S. Navy. The jury was ultimately unable to reach a verdict, and the court declared a mistrial.

Jury selection in the second trial began on February 20, 2024. Plaintiff’s experts included epidemiologist Alan Smith, pulmonologist Barry Horn, M.D., pathologist David Train, certified industrial hygienist Christopher DePasquale, pathologist and cell biologist Arnold Brody, Ph. D., and materials scientist Steven Compton. Testifying on behalf of John Crane were pulmonologist James Crapo, M.D., former Occupational Safety and Health Administration director and industrial hygienist John Henshaw, and Navy expert Capt. Margaret McCloskey.

On March 14, 2024, the jury returned a verdict for John Crane. With respect to the special verdict questions, the jury found as follows:

  • Government Contractor: (1) the U.S. Navy contracted with John Crane to provide asbestos-containing packing, (2) the U.S. Navy approved reasonably precise specifications for John Crane’s asbestos-containing packing, and (3) John Crane’s packing conformed to those specifications.
  • Government Contractor – Warnings: (1) the United States imposed reasonably precise specifications as to warnings John Crane could place on its products, (2) John Crane’s asbestos-containing packing did not meet those specifications, and (3) John Crane did not have knowledge about the dangers of asbestos that were not also known to the U.S. Navy.
  • Product Design – Failure to Warn: (1) John Crane’s packing had potential risks that were known or knowable at the time it was sold, (2) the potential risks posed a substantial danger from a reasonably foreseeable use of the product, (3) an ordinary consumer would not have recognized the risks, (4) John Crane failed to adequately warn or instruct of the potential risks, and (5) the lack of sufficient instructions or warnings was not a substantial factor in causing Mr. Castillo’s mesothelioma.
  • Negligent Failure to Warn: (1) John Crane knew or should have known that its product was dangerous when used in a foreseeable manner, (2) John Crane knew or should have known that users would not realize the danger, (3) John Crane negligently failed to warn about the danger or instruct the user on the safe use of the product, (4) a reasonable manufacturer, distributor or seller would have warned about the dangers, and (5) John Crane’s failure to warn or instruct was not a substantial factor in causing Mr. Castillo’s mesothelioma.

Read the full decision here and the verdict here.