Jury Awards $2.6 Million in Asbestos Lung Cancer Case to Family of Retired Local 378 Ironworker
San Francisco, CA — September 3, 2008 — Late Tuesday afternoon, September 2, 2008, a San Francisco jury found in favor of the family of a retired Local 378 Ironworker who died in 2006 from lung cancer. Douglas "Duke" Vanden Broek had worked for many steel and crane contractors throughout the Bay Area spanning a career from 1964 through 2001. In his work, Mr. Vanden Broek was exposed to asbestos used by insulators at various locations including Standard Oil Refinery in Richmond, CA; Tosco Refinery in Avon, CA; the Oakland Coliseum; and the General Motors Plant in Fremont, CA. The jury found defendant Plant Insulation Company negligent and found that the asbestos insulation products, sold under the name Pabco, were defective in design as they failed to perform safely as consumers would expect when used as intended. Asbestos is classified as a 1A human carcinogen, the highest classification. Defendant, Plant Insulation Company, claimed that Mr. Vanden Broek's lung cancer, diagnosed in 2004, was caused by his extensive smoking history which began as a teenager in 1956 and lasted until 1991 when Mr. Vanden Broek stopped smoking.
"We are grateful that the jury recognized that exposure to asbestos significantly increases the risk for lung cancer in smokers as well as non–smokers," said Gilbert Purcell, trial counsel for plaintiffs. "Mr. Vanden Broek died of lung cancer caused by the combined effects of the carcinogens in cigarette smoke and asbestos." The trial began August 14, 2008 in Department 503 of the San Francisco Superior Court, the Honorable James J. McBride, Judge Presiding. The jury determined that defendant Plant Insulation Company was 5% responsible and that Mr. Vanden Broek, owing to his extensive smoking history, was 60% responsible. Calculation and entry of the net judgment is currently pending.
Defendant, Plant Insulation Company, was represented by James Fraser of Lewis, Brisbois, Bisgaard & Smith, San Francisco, California.