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Asbestos Mesothelioma Verdict for the Plaintiff worth $22.17 Million

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A host of talc lawsuits in the past have alleged asbestos disease triggered from long-term use of talc powder. However, in this case the victim of asbestos mesothelioma helped to make the stuff…

Alameda County, CAAn asbestos lawsuit brought by the family of a man who died from asbestos mesothelioma concluded last week on December 11 with a decision worth a combined $22.17 million favoring the plaintiff. The award includes $4.6 million in punitive damages against co-defendants Imerys Talc America Inc. and Vanderbilt Minerals LLC.

According to Law360 (12/12/17), Richard Booker worked as a paint maker and tinter at Dexter-Midland Chemical Co. in Hayward, California from 1972 through 1993.

In August 2015, Booker was diagnosed with asbestos cancer – mesothelioma – a disease often characterized as having a long incubation period following exposure to asbestos that is often measured in decades before asbestos cancer finally emerges. In Booker’s case, his diagnosis of asbestos mesothelioma came in August, 2015 some 22 years following his last known exposure to the asbestos contained in the talc used to manufacture the paint with which the victim worked.

Booker died less than a year following his diagnosis of asbestos mesothelioma, in June of last year. He was 72.

In closing arguments submitted to the jury just prior to Thanksgiving, lead counsel for the plaintiff opined that decisions associated with use of talc in the workplace environment were made by those at the highest level of management. Plaintiff counsel submitted that management knowingly put Booker at risk without his knowledge, and without taking appropriate precautions to shield from ingesting asbestos, and to protect his health.

The jury awarded $500,000 in pre-death damages and $7.63 million in post-death damages for Richard Booker's widow, Cheryl Booker. The jury also awarded $3 million each for their daughters Julie Mae Porter and Denise Rodriguez; together with $1 million each for grandchildren Kaylie Klitzing, Sienna Gavino and Capri Gavino. With the victim’s economic damages award of $400,000 the total award added up to $17.57 million in compensatory damages. Imerys was assessed 40 percent of the liability, while Vanderbilt assumed the larger share of 60 percent.

The Alameda County jury arrived at the compensatory damages verdict November 27. The punitive damages award came a few weeks later, on December 11.

It is not known if there will be an appeal.

The asbestos lawsuit is Booker v. Imerys et al., Case No. RG15796166, in the Alameda County Superior Court.


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