The $6.6 million dollar jury verdict in a state Supreme Court case involving a Florida man dying of mesothelioma who had filed suit against his former employer, claiming their responsibility for his exposure to asbestos, has been reinstated. In the early 1970’s, the plaintiff was employed by Union Carbide to supervise the construction of a residential development site called Desoto Lakes in Sarasota, Florida. The man claims that during this time, he often inhaled the dust created by the sanding and sweeping of drywall and the application of ceiling texture sprays, both of which contained SG-210 Calidria, an asbestos product made by Union Carbide. The lawsuit alleged that despite his frequent exposure to the product, his employer had never informed him that the product had contained asbestos. He sued Union Carbide for failure to warn, negligence and strict liability for a defective design.
Although a jury ruled in favor of the plaintiff and awarded him $6.6 million, Florida’s Third District Court of Appeal in 2012 found that the jury was misled and therefore the verdict was flawed. Their decision was based on the fact that the plaintiff had needed to prove the existence of a reasonable alternative design in which the product would have to pass a risk-utility test; he did not. The Court of Appeal case also determined that the damages were not due to a design defect in the product and so Union Carbide had no duty to warn. The 1976 ruling in West vs. Caterpillar Tractor Co. was cited as precedent in this case, as it used a “consumer expectations” test to determine design defect. This lack of information proved crucial to the case, and the Florida Supreme Court reinstated the verdict.
Justice Barbara Pariente went on to explain the value of the information regarding the perceived “duty to warn” by asbestos product producing companies such as Union Carbide. Pariente noted that since the plaintiff presented enough evidence to avoid directed verdict based upon causation, the Third District made a mistake legally by taking the decision away from the jury. She and another found that the jury’s instructions weren’t misleading enough to require a reversal, but the dissenting justices found Union Carbide deserved a new trial. The final decision was based on the failure to inform the jury of Union Carbide’s learned-intermediary defense, that their duty to warn was dismissible by warning intermediate manufacturers, and relying on them to warn the end product users.
Philadelphia mesothelioma lawyers at Brookman, Rosenberg, Brown & Sandler have the knowledge and the experience to ensure that mesothelioma and other asbestos-related patients recover the compensation they deserve for their damages. Call 800-369-0899 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation today.