San Francisco Jury Awards $8,673,704 in Mesothelioma Case
San Francisco, CA — March 22, 2005 — A San Francisco jury awarded $8,673,704.74 to a 60 year old former United States Navy machinist and engineering officer suffering from terminal pleural mesothelioma caused by his service–related asbestos exposure. The plaintiffs are Anthony Cadlo and his wife, Maxlyn Cadlo. The defendants are John Crane Incorporated, a former manufacturer of asbestos pump and valve packing and distributor of asbestos gaskets, and Metalclad Insulation Corporation, a former supplier of asbestos thermal insulation products.
The trial began on February 1, 2005, before San Francisco Superior Court Judge John J. Conway. A jury was impaneled to hear the case and heard testimony. Closing arguments were presented March 14, 2005. The jury deliberated for over three days before reaching its verdict.
During the trial, testimony was introduced concerning the historical use of asbestos, the state of medical knowledge historically regarding asbestos, cell biology, epidemiology, pulmonary medicine, pulmonary pathology, and industrial hygiene. Evidence was also presented regarding defendants' involvement in the supply of asbestos–containing products to the United States Navy.
Anthony Cadlo testified at the trial, despite weighing less than 140 pounds, suffering with tumor protrusions on his left chest and being tethered to supplemental oxygen on a 24/7 basis.
A History of Asbestos Exposure
Mr. Cadlo joined the United States Navy in 1964 at the age of 18. He received training as a Navy machinist mate at the Naval facility in Great Lakes, Illinois, where he learned how to maintain and repair equipment on naval vessels, including pumps and valves. In order to effect those repairs, Mr. Cadlo was required to remove and install asbestos–containing pump and valve packing as well as asbestos–containing gaskets.
Mr. Cadlo was assigned to the USS BLACK (DD–666), a Fletcher class destroyer, in early 1965. He joined the ship in the Philippines and was soon involved in the first of two combat cruises in Vietnam. Mr. Cadlo was also aboard the BLACK when it participated in the Tet Offensive. He was discharged honorably in June of 1968.
During his service aboard the BLACK, Mr. Cadlo served as an apprentice machinist and machinist mate. His duty station was in the forward engine room where he was routinely exposed to hazardous levels of respirable asbestos from thermal insulation, packing and gaskets. This asbestos exposure occurred while Mr. Cadlo and other machinist mates maintained and repaired valves, pumps, piping and auxiliary equipment in ports, including the San Diego Destroyer Base and Sasebo, Japan. Mr. Cadlo was also exposed to asbestos during the repeated firing of the BLACK's three and five inch guns in combat, which caused thermal insulation throughout the ship to vibrate and emit asbestos dust.
Mr. Cadlo and the crew of the BLACK were also heavily exposed to asbestos during a three–month overhaul at Long Beach Naval Shipyard in late 1965, involving extensive thermal insulation removal and installation. Although Mr. Cadlo was unable to recall the manufacturers or distributors of any of the asbestos products he worked with and around on the BLACK, plaintiffs presented such evidence through four of Mr. Cadlo's shipmates and a former insulator from the Long Beach Naval Shipyard.
Mr. Cadlo's shipmates identified John Crane, Inc., as the predominant manufacturer of asbestos pump and valve packing used on the BLACK before and during Mr. Cadlo's service on the ship. John Crane, Inc., was also identified as one of the manufacturers of asbestos gaskets used on the BLACK during the same time period.
A former insulator from Long Beach Naval Shipyard, Charles Ay, testified to the regular and routine supply of large quantities of asbestos thermal insulation to the shipyard by Metalclad Insulation Corporation during the 1960s. Insulation stored in common supply areas was utilized for the repair and overhaul of Navy ships involved in the Vietnam conflict. Mr. Ay further testified to performing multiple repairs and overhauls on the BLACK from 1960 through 1966, including the three month overhaul in late 1965.
Mr. Cadlo never wore respiratory protection while on the BLACK and was unaware of the hazards of asbestos. Neither Mr. Cadlo nor his shipmates saw any warnings from the manufacturers or suppliers of the asbestos products they worked with and around on the ship. After his discharge in 1968, Mr. Cadlo was never again exposed occupationally to asbestos.
John Crane, Inc.(formerly known as John Crane Packing Company) of Morton Grove, Illinois, engaged in the manufacture and sale of a wide variety of asbestos pump and valve packing from at least 1930. In 1985 it discontinued the use of asbestos in its products and advertised its non–asbestos packing as "safer" than asbestos packing.
John Crane Incorporated never tested its products for fiber release during normal and foreseeable use until it became involved in asbestos personal injury litigation in the early 1980s. John Crane Incorporated first placed asbestos warnings on its products regarding the hazards of asbestos in 1983, coinciding with the first asbestos personal injury claims being filed against it. Prior to that time, John Crane Incorporated did not warn its customers about asbestos health hazards.
Metalclad Insulation Corporation, a thermal insulation supplier and insulation contracting firm, began operations in 1933 in Southern California. While it is currently located in Anaheim, California, Metalclad Insulation Corporation was headquartered in Torrance, California during the 1960s. Evidence introduced at trial demonstrated that Metalclad Insulation Corporation regularly supplied large quantities of asbestos pipe covering, block insulation, insulation cement and asbestos cloth to the Long Beach Naval Shipyard for use on naval vessels during the Vietnam War. The company made no effort to provide warnings or safe work practice information with its products. When asbestos thermal insulation was discontinued in 1972 due to health concerns, Metalclad Insulation Corporation sold off its existing asbestos inventory for a profit despite the fact that non–asbestos substitutes were available through manufacturers.
Mr. Cadlo's Mesothelioma Diagnosis
Anthony Cadlo was diagnosed with malignant pleural mesothelioma in August of 2002. Mesothelioma is a rare cancer of the lining of the lung which is incurable and invariably fatal. The only established cause of mesothelioma in the United States is asbestos. The diagnosis of Mr. Cadlo's mesothelioma and its asbestos cause was not disputed by the defendants.
Defendant John Crane, Inc., presented expert testimony suggesting that its packing and gasket products released "trivial" amounts of chrysotile asbestos during removal and installation. Additionally, John Crane, Inc., alleged through expert testimony that chrysotile asbestos poses little to no risk of mesothelioma and thus John Crane, Inc., products could not have been a cause of Mr. Cadlo's mesothelioma.
Metalclad Insulation Corporation did not dispute that its asbestos products could release high levels of respirable asbestos and conceded that its products were defective in closing argument. Metalclad Insulation Corporation contended that plaintiffs had not met their burden of proof demonstrating that its products were ever used on the BLACK.
Defendant John Crane Incorporated was represented at trial by attorney Philip Ward and John Katerndahl of Hassard Bonnington LLC of San Francisco, California. Defendant Metalclad Insulation Corporation was represented at trial by attorney Frank Berfield of McKenna Long & Aldridge LLP of San Francisco, California.