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$4.5M Asbestos Lawsuit Settlement Ruled Not Excessive

This is a settlement for the Asbestos Mesothelioma lawsuit.

San Francisco, CA: A $4.5 million punitive damages award in an asbestos mesothelioma lawsuit will be allowed to stand – a California appeals court has ruled that it is not excessive, and that the conduct of ArvinMeritor, the defendant in the lawsuit, and successor of brake shoe manufacturer Rockwell, was "highly reprehensible."

According to a report by Legal NewsLine, the brake shoes Rockwell made were fitted with asbestos-containing linings produced by other companies. ArvinMeritor did not dispute its liability for the acts of Rockwell.

"By the 1960s, ArvinMeritor knew that workers exposed to asbestos dust were at risk of developing asbestos-related diseases," the judge presiding over the appeal wrote. "Indeed, in 1973 and again in 1975, it wrote letters to (Pneumo Abex) and other manufacturers complaining about the presence of asbestos dust in the brake linings it was receiving from them. Nonetheless, ArvinMeritor did not place any warnings on its products until the early 1980s, and continued to market asbestos-containing brakes until its inventory of them was exhausted sometime in the early 1990s."

The justice noted that ArvinMeritor did not include a specific reference to cancer on its products until 1987. Gordon Bankhead, who filed the lawsuit, had worked at automotive maintenance facilities from 1965-1999. He died of mesothelioma in 2009.

A jury found ArvinMeritor 15 percent at fault for Bankhead's death and suffering, putting it on the hook for $375,000 of a $2.5 million noneconomic damages award. The company was joint and severally liable for all of the $1.47 million in compensatory damages. A separate trial resulted in the $4.5 million punitive damages award. (Legal

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Published on May-3-12


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