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Erie County, NY

In this action, the plaintiff claimed the decedent’s wrongful death resulted from mesothelioma, a condition that according to the plaintiff, originated with the decedent’s prior work with asbestos-containing materials used in and on valves manufactured and supplied by the defendant Crane. The plaintiff asserted the valves were defective due to Crane’s failure to warn of the danger of asbestos-containing gaskets or packing. The defendant argued that because it manufactured component parts it did not put into the stream of commerce, under the component parts doctrine, the company had no duty to warn.

The decedent was diagnosed with pleural mesothelioma in October ________ and died 12 months later at the age of 77. He worked as a pipefitter at the GM Powertrain Facility in Tonawanda, New York for 36 years. From ________ to ________, his work included repairing valves manufactured by defendant Crane with asbestos gaskets and packing materials. Crane did concede that it may have manufactured and supplied valves containing asbestos to Chevy; however, it argued the plaintiff presented no evidence that the decedent worked with any of that specific, original material. Defendant Crane claimed that other materials were suitable and available to Chevy to seal and connect valves and that it was Chevy’s choice, not Crane’s, to use asbestos containing material with Crane’s valves.

The plaintiff confuted this argument, asserting the valves were in fact finished products, not merely components and that the asbestos-containing replacement parts handled by the decedent were substantially identical to the valves’ original asbestos-containing gaskets and packing supplied at the time of sale. The plaintiff maintained that Crane designed and advertised its valves for high-pressure steam use, fitting them with asbestos gaskets and packing before sale and expecting that the valves would be used for high pressure steam lines. It was not disputed that Chevy used the product as intended and the defendant conceded at trial it did not know of any other material that could perform as well as asbestos for valve packing prior to at least ________. Trial testimony revealed asbestos was the only effective gasket material that could be used on steam lines during the relevant period of the decedent’s employment at the plant.

The plaintiff alleged that during trial, Crane mischaracterized facts regarding its knowledge of the dangers of asbestos. None of Crane’s officers personally appeared at trial but instead a corporate representative provided videotaped testimony in which he stated the company first learned of the dangers of asbestos in ________. However, the plaintiff presented evidence in which corporate officers from Crane lobbied in the 1930s to create harsher laws for workers suing for damages related to asbestos-related injuries.

The defendant also contested the type of asbestos the decedent was exposed to, claiming it wasn’t released into the air; therefore the decedent could not have breathed it into his lungs while working with Crane valves. The plaintiff’s medical expert not only testified to the fact that the asbestos the decedent was exposed to did cause his death, but he additionally offered testimony to the suffering endured by the decedent due to the tumor that surrounded his lungs.After two days of deliberation, the jury reached its verdict, finding in favor of the plaintiff that the decedent was exposed to asbestos-containing gaskets or packing while working on Crane valves, that those valves were defective because of Crane’s failure to warn of the danger of asbestos-containing gaskets or packing and that the defective Crane valves were a substantial factor in causing the decedent’s injuries. The jury awarded the plaintiff $________ for decedent’s past pain and suffering; $________ was awarded for loss of decedent’s services and society; $________ was awarded for past monetary loss sustained by the decedent’s disabled daughter and $________ for 25 years for her future monetary loss. In addition to defendant Crane, 17 other asbestos manufacturers were additionally held liable for the plaintiff’s death.

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