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ARTICLE ID 41582

$________ - ASBESTOS EXPOSURE - FAILURE TO WARN OF ASBESTOS IN PUMP AND VALVE PACKING -PLAINTIFF SUFFERING FROM TERMINAL PLEURAL MESOTHELIOMA DUE TO MILITARY SERVICE RELATED EXPOSURE.

San Francisco County, California

This is a product liability and negligence action. The plaintiff and his wife brought suit against the defendant on a product liability theory for military service exposure to asbestos packing in pumps and valves utilized by the plaintiff during his work as a machinist in military service aboard the USS Black. The defendant, while not disputing the diagnosis of mesothelioma in the plaintiff, disputed causation alleging that its product contained trivial amounts of asbestos materials which could not have been the cause of the plaintiff’s injury.

The male plaintiff joined the United States Navy in ________ at the age of 18. He received training as a Navy machinist mate at the naval facility in Great Lakes, Illinois, where he learned how to maintain and repair equipment on naval vessels, including pumps and valves. In order to make those repairs, the plaintiff was required to remove and install asbestos-containing pump and valve packing as well as asbestos-containing gaskets. The plaintiff was ultimately assigned to the USS Black, a Fletcher class destroyer, in early ________. He joined the ship in the Philippines and was soon involved in the first of two combat cruises in Vietnam. The plaintiff was also aboard the USS Black when it participated in the Tet Offensive. He was discharged honorably in June ________. During his service aboard the USS Black, the plaintiff served as  3J 3 an apprentice machinist and machinist mate. His duty station was in the forward engine room where he alleged he was routinely exposed to hazardous levels of respirable asbestos from thermal insulation, packing and gaskets. This asbestos exposure occurred while the plaintiff and other machinist mates maintained and repaired valves, pumps, piping and auxiliary equipment in ports, including the San Diego Destroyer Base and Sasebo, Japan. The plaintiff was also exposed to asbestos during the repeated firing of the ship’s three- and five-inch guns in combat, which caused thermal insulation throughout the ship to vibrate and emit asbestos dust.

The plaintiff alleged that he and the other members of the crew were also heavily exposed to asbestos during a three-month overhaul at Long Beach Naval Shipyard in late ________. This overhaul involved extensive thermal insulation removal and installation. Although the plaintiff was unable to recall the manufacturers or distributors of any of the asbestos products he worked with and around on the USS Black, the plaintiffs presented such evidence through four of his shipmates and a former insulator from the Long Beach Naval Shipyard. The plaintiff presented evidence which identified the defendant John Crane, Inc. as the predominant manufacturer of asbestos pump and valve packing used on the USS Black before and during the plaintiff’s tour of service on the ship. John Crane, Inc. was also identified as one of the manufacturers of asbestos gaskets used on the USS Black during the same time period. The plaintiff alleged that he never wore respiratory protection while on the ship and was never advised of the hazards of asbestos. The plaintiff further alleged that neither he nor his shipmates ever received any warnings from manufacturers or suppliers of the asbestos products they worked with and around on the ship. The plaintiff maintained that his only exposure to asbestos occurred during his tour of duty in the Navy.

Defendant, John Crane, Inc. (formerly known as John Crane Packing Company) of Morton Grove, Illinois, engaged in the manufacture and sale of a wide variety of asbestos pump and valve packing beginning in ________ or earlier. In ________ it discontinued the use of asbestos in its products and advertised its non-asbestos packing as "safer" than asbestos packing.

A former insulator from Long Beach Naval Shipyard, Charles Ay, testified to the regular and routine supply of large quantities of asbestos thermal insulation to the shipyard by Metalclad Insulation Corporation during the 1960s. Insulation stored in common supply areas was utilized for the repair and overhaul of Navy ships involved in the Vietnam conflict. Mr. Ay further testified to performing multiple repairs and overhauls on the USS Black from ________ through ________, including the three-month overhaul in late ________. John Crane Incorporated never tested its products for fiber release during normal and foreseeable use until it became involved in asbestos personal injury litigation in the early 1980s. John Crane, Inc. first placed asbestos warnings on its products regarding the hazards of asbestos in ________, coinciding with the first asbestos personal injury claims being filed against it. Prior to that time, John Crane Inc. did not warn its customers about asbestos health hazards. 3 3  Defendant, Metalclad Insulation Corporation, a thermal insulation supplier and insulation contracting firm, began operations in ________ in Southern California. While it is currently located in Anaheim, California, Metalclad Insulation Corporation was headquartered in Torrance, California during the 1960s. Evidence introduced at trial demonstrated that Metalclad Insulation Corp. regularly supplied large quantities of asbestos pipe covering, block insulation, insulation cement and asbestos cloth to the Long Beach Naval Shipyard for use on naval vessels during the Vietnam War. The company made no effort to provide warnings or safe work practice information with its products. When asbestos thermal insulation was discontinued in ________ due to health concerns, Metalclad Insulation Corp. sold off its existing asbestos inventory for a profit despite the fact that non- asbestos substitutes were available through manufacturers.

The defendants disputed liability and causation. Neither defendant disputed the plaintiff’s diagnosis and prognosis. Defendant John Crane, Inc. presented expert testimony suggesting that its packing and gasket products released "trivial" amounts of chrysotile asbestos during removal and installation. Additionally, John Crane, Inc. alleged through expert testimony that chrysotile asbestos poses little to no risk of mesothelioma and thus John Crane, Inc. products could not have been a cause of the plaintiff’s mesothelioma. Defendant, Metalclad Insulation Corp. did not dispute that its asbestos products could release high levels of respirable asbestos and conceded that its products were defective in closing argument. Metalclad Insulation Corp. contended that the plaintiffs had not met their burden of proof demonstrating that its products were ever used on the USS Black.

The trial commenced on February 1, ________ and closing arguments occurred on March 14, ________. The jury deliberated for three days before returning its verdict.

The jury awarded total damages of $________ which consisted of $________ in past medical expenses; $________ in future medical expenses; $________ in lost earning capacity and loss of household services; $________ in non-economic damages to plaintiff Anthony Cadlo and $________ in non-economic damages to plaintiff Maxlyn Cadlo.

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