But the plaintiff was also awarded $300 million in punitive damages, for a total of $322 million.
Since the decision was handed down, the defendants in the asbestos drilling mud case—Union Carbide and Chevron Phillips Chemical Co.—have gone beyond merely appealing the decision. They want it tossed out altogether, given recent revelations that the Mississippi judge in the case failed to declare a potential conflict.
Specifically, according to the May 19 issue of the Laurel Leader-Call, Judge Eddie H. Bowen's parents had been previously involved in an asbestos case deemed similar to that involving plaintiff Brown. Howard J. Bowen, identified as Judge Bowen's father, had filed a lawsuit against Union Carbide together with other defendants in 1989 and 1992. The elder Bowen, along with his wife, sought $1 million for emotional distress.
Bowen Sr. claimed he had been exposed to asbestos at his place of employ. He is reported to have settled with Union Carbide. Due to the similarity of the elder Bowen's situation and Brown's oil drilling mud case, defendants in the current dispute want the $322 million verdict tossed, the case thrown out, and for Judge Bowen to recuse himself from all current and future cases dealing with alleged asbestos contamination.
And there is more comment weighed against Brown's asbestos drilling mud case and the award.
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The editorial states further that punitive damages should be proportionate to the actual damages awarded for medical expenses, loss of income, suffering and the like. The Free Press notes that lawmakers in Tennessee are considering limits on non-economic damages in such cases, a cap the Free Press deems as appropriate.
Plaintiff Thomas Brown claimed that inhaling asbestos dust—asbestos serving as an aspect of drilling mud composition—was responsible for his shortness of breath. The jury award is expected to be appealed to the Mississippi Supreme Court.