September 8, 2015, PLLR E-Newsletter | The American Association For Justice Archive

September 8, 2015, PLLR E-Newsletter

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Failure to warn of known product dangers leads to Navy machinist’s mesothelioma

The plaintiff alleged that various manufacturers and suppliers of asbestos-containing products failed to warn of their products’ known dangers. The jury awarded $11.5 million, including $10 million in punitive damages. Poage v. 3M Co.

From 1954 to 1958, James Poage served as a machinist’s mate in the U.S. Navy. While working aboard a naval ship, Poage was exposed to asbestos from various products, including valve gaskets and packing manufactured by Crane Co.

In September 2011, Poage was diagnosed with mesothelioma. He died of the disease the following year at age 76, survived by his wife, two adult children, and several grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

Poage’s wife, on behalf of his estate, sued various manufacturers and suppliers of asbestos-containing products, including Crane Co., alleging that the defendants failed to warn of their products’ asbestos dangers. Various companies settled for confidential amounts or were otherwise dismissed, leaving Crane as the sole trial defendant. The plaintiff sought punitive damages against Crane.

At trial, the estate introduced documents showing that Crane was aware of the dangers of asbestos in its products for decades but failed to warn of those dangers.

Crane denied that its products were the source of Poage’s exposure and argued that his disease was caused by other companies’ products.

The jury awarded $1.5 million in compensatory damages and $10 million in punitive damages, for a total verdict of $11.5 million.

Citation: Poage v. 3M Co., No. 1322-CC00059 (Mo. Cir. Ct. St. Louis Cnty. July 2, 2015).

Plaintiff counsel: AAJ member Fletcher V. Trammell, Robert W. Cowan, and AAJ member Aaron M. Heckaman, all of Houston; and AAJ member Ben R. Schmickle, St. Louis.

Plaintiff experts: Arnold Brody, cell biology, New Orleans; Steven Paskal, industrial hygiene, Baltimore; and James Strauchen, pathology, and David Rosner, state of the art, both of New York City.

Crane’s experts: Donna Ringo, industrial hygiene, Louisville, Ky.; Charles Blake, industrial hygiene, Kennesaw, Ga.; Samuel Forman, naval operations, Brookline, Mass.; and Michael Graham, pathology, and Brian Taylor, lung disease, both of St. Louis.