Verdict of Over $18.5 Million for Aerospace Plastics Molder Suffering from Mesothelioma
San Francisco, CA — September 1, 2006 — After a day and a half of deliberations, a jury ruled in favor of a former plastics molder in his products liability and negligence trial against a former asbestos mining and manufacturing company. After determining that defendant Union Carbide Corporation's open asbestos fiber product RG–144 was defectively designed and contained a failure to warn product defect, and that Union Carbide was negligent, the jury assessed $3,223,450 in economic damages, and $15,300,000 in non–economic damages.
Mr. Bakkie has been battling asbestos–caused cancer since his diagnosis of malignant mesothelioma in September 2005. Mesothelioma is an invariably fatal cancer of the lining of the lungs and is caused by asbestos exposure.
Mr. Bakkie most recently worked for the City of Roseville as an electrical utility lineman. Prior to that, he held the same position at the Sacramento Municipal Utility District. Mr. Bakkie worked with asbestos–containing products, including asbestos–insulated cables and electrical switch gear. While employed during the mid–1970s at American Polytherm, a Sacramento aerospace plastics molding company, Mr. Bakkie worked with Union Carbide Corporation's open fiber asbestos product RG–144. American Polytherm was using the Union Carbide asbestos fiber in the manufacture of a canal sealant widely used on projects including the California Aqueduct to fill the seams between concrete sections.
Union Carbide was a leading manufacturer of Calidria™ asbestos, mined at its King City mine near Fresno, California. It supplied asbestos to manufacturers of various products including floor tile, epoxy adhesives, sealants, wall board joint and taping compounds.
At trial, the plaintiff presented evidence showing that the knowledge of the hazards of asbestos exposure dates to the 1920s. By the early 1950s, it was known that asbestos caused cancer.
"We are very gratified with the jury decision and thankful for their efforts," said Gilbert Purcell, asbestos attorney for Mr. Bakkie. "Mr. Bakkie is a wonderful, deserving man and the jury process didn't let him down." Gilbert Purcell, along with John Goldstein of Brayton Purcell LLP, represented David Bakkie.
The trial, which began the first week of July, was presided over by the Honorable Gail Dekreon who sits in Department 622 of the San Francisco Superior Court. Defendant Union Carbide Corporation was represented by Morton Dubin, Christopher Vejnoska, Catherine Morris Krow, and Katherine Ikeda of Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP, and John Brydon of Brydon, Hugo & Parker.