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Los Angeles Court Upholds $22.7 Mesothelioma Verdict Against John Crane

Last week, Anne Pfeifer, prevailed on John Crane’s appeal of her $22.7M verdict against the company. Her husband, William, contracted mesothelioma and later died, and a Los Angeles County jury concluded that John Crane was the company most largely responsible.  Attached is a copy of the Published Opinion. In a lengthy opinion, Court of Appeals rejected all of John Crane’s claims of error and affirmed matters of law and fact that include the following:

  1. John Crane committed Malice by clear and convincing evidence, and the jury’s decision to assess $14.5M to punish and deter John Crane was not error.

  2. Even if Plaintiff’s employer, the U.S. Navy, knew of hazards of asbestos, tate fact does not as a matter of law relieve a vendor like John Crane of its duty to timely and adequately warn the Navy’s employees (in this case, Navy Servicemen) of dangers.

  3. Asbestos gaskets cause mesothelioma, and did so in the case of Wm Pfeifer, according to reliable medical and scientific testimony

  4. The jury was fully within its discretion to assess a 70% finding against John Crane, irrespective of John Crane’s efforts to blame the Navy, the plaintiff, thermal insulation manufacturers, etc.

  5. Defendant’s duty to prove its case against other alleged responsible parties is no less onerous than plaintiff’s evidentiary burden against Defendant.  Defendant’s failure to meet its evidentiary burden will not be fixed by later pleas for sympathy.

  6. Defendants who refuse to provide net worth evidence when ordered by a trial court to do so lack meaningful standing to argue later that net worth evidence is indispensable to the proper assessment of punitive damages.

This case was tried by  Jay Stuemke and Rob Green, and then briefed and argued by  Brian Barrow.  Each of them did a terrific job and we thank and congratulate them.

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