On March 16, 2020, a Washington appellate court has reversed a defense verdict entered in favor of John Crane Inc. in an asbestos case, finding that a jury did not allow the plaintiffs to argue their theory of the case.

The Washington Court of Appeals found it “troublesome when an instruction defining proximate cause undercuts a party’s theory as revealed by the pleadings, opening statement, evidence and closing arguments.”

Era Clevenger, the surviving spouse of James Clevenger challenged the instruction that requires her to establish Mr. Clevenger’s exposure to asbestos-containing products was a substantial factor in “bringing about his mesothelioma.”

Mrs. Clevenger argued her theory of the case was that exposure to asbestos was a substantial factor in causing either mesothelioma or an asbestos-related lung cancer.

It was determined through facts and substantial evidence that Mrs. Clevenger’s theory that her husband contracted mesothelioma or an asbestos-related lung cancer that resulted in his asbestos-related tumor and subsequent death was spot on.

Between 1974 and 2015, Mr. Clevenger was exposed to various forms of asbestos while working as a boiler technician in the Navy, a maintenance mechanic at a city water department, and a pipefitter. On March 31, 2016, Mr. Clevenger filed this lawsuit, alleging an asbestos-related disease and passed away on April 21, 2017. On June 8, 2017, Mrs. Clevenger converted the lawsuit to a wrongful death action.