Orange County Jury Assesses $62,000 in Asbestosis Case
Orange County, CA — May 11, 2005 — An Orange County jury assessed damages of $62,000 in favor of a retired pipefitter with asbestosis and pleural disease caused by his occupational exposure to asbestos. The plaintiff, Ronald Kautz, of Riverside, California is 64 years old. The defendant was Advocate Mines, Ltd.
Advocate Mines, Ltd. was held liable for negligently manufacturing and supplying asbestos fiber to make Johns–Manville Transite pipe in their Long Beach, California, and Stockton, California facilities. Advocate Mines, Ltd., in partnership with the Johns–Manville Corporation, owned and operated an asbestos mine in Baie Verte, Newfoundland starting in the 1950s. Advocate Mines, Ltd. sold asbestos fiber to various manufacturers of asbestos–containing products, including Johns–Manville Corporation, for use in Transite asbestos–cement pipe.
The trial began on April 18, 2005, before Orange County Superior Court Judge Kim Dunning. A jury was impaneled to hear the case and heard testimony. Closing arguments were presented on May 9, 2005. The jury deliberated for two days before reaching its verdict. During the trial, in addition to evidence concerning Advocate Mines, Ltd.'s involvement with asbestos, testimony was presented concerning the historical use of asbestos, medical diagnosis, historical medical articles concerning asbestos and disease, pulmonary medicine, radiology, and industrial hygiene.
Ronald Kautz was born in Lingo, Wyoming and lives in Riverside, CA. As a pipefitter from 1967 to 1971, he installed underground water pipelines. Mr. Kautz handled, cut, and beveled Johns–Manville Transite pipe containing Advocate Mines, Ltd. asbestos fiber, allowing the release of respirable asbestos.
Advocate Mines, Ltd. did not provide any warning to consumers about the asbestos fiber used in Johns–Manville Transite pipe and continued to sell asbestos fiber without caution labels even after learning that the industrial hygiene measures they had put in place at their mine had failed to protect their own miners from asbestos disease.
Mr. Kautz was diagnosed with asbestosis and pleural disease. Medical testimony established that his asbestosis and pleural disease were caused by his occupational exposure to asbestos.
The plaintiff was represented at trial by James P. Nevin of Brayton Purcell LLP in Novato, California. Defendant Advocate Mines, Ltd. was represented at trial by John Graniez and Bartley Becker of Lewis Brisbois Bisgaard & Smith LLP, Los Angeles, California.