SEATTLE, WA — April 25, 2001 — A Seattle jury has returned a $1,511,900 verdict in favor of Ray and Betty Sundberg of Longview, WA. The defendant in this case was ACandS, Inc. (formerly Armstrong Contracting and Supply), a company that supplied asbestos-containing insulation to Ray Sundberg’s jobsite at Longview Fibre in Longview, WA.
Ray had worked at Longview Fibre from 1947 to 1989 as a millwright and had been extensively exposed to asbestos as he repaired and maintained digesters and cookers that had been sprayed with ACandS Limpet insulation at this site. He is one of many Longview Fibre workers who have claims pending for asbestos-related injuries.
Ray Sundberg, age 74, had been diagnosed with non–Hodgkin’s lymphoma, colon cancer, and asbestosis, all caused by his occupational exposure to asbestos. These life-threatening diseases destroyed his health and required major surgery followed by six months of chemotherapy. All of this significantly impacted his ability to continue as a caregiver for his wife who had her own serious medical problems. The jury’s award included $451,900 for medical expenses and wage and pension loss, $700,000 for Ray Sundberg’s pain and suffering, and $360,000 for Betty Sundberg’s loss of her husband’s care, comfort, and society.
The trial started on March 26, and in the following weeks, the jury heard extensive evidence about the nature of asbestos, diagnosis, and treatment of asbestos-related disease, epidemiology, industrial hygiene, and ACandS’s extensive corporate knowledge of the dangers of asbestos, the knowledge they had many years before they supplied asbestos to Longview Fibre. The jury determined that the products supplied by ACandS were not reasonably safe, that ACandS did not adequately warn Ray Sundberg of the dangers of asbestos, and that ACandS’s negligence was a proximate cause of his injuries.
ACandS attempted to show that Ray Sundberg’s injuries were not caused by asbestos, or that if they were, that they were not legally responsible for his exposure to asbestos. They also argued that he contributed to the negligence. The jury rejected these contentions and was unanimous in finding no contributory negligence.
Gilbert Purcell, lead trial attorney for the Sundbergs noted, “We are pleased that this deserving, hardworking man received a fair resolution of his claim, a claim that never should have had to be brought had ACandS done what a reasonably prudent or safety conscious company would have done in these circumstances.”
The Sundbergs were represented by asbestos attorneys Gilbert Purcell and David Stewart of Brayton Purcell LLP of Portland, OR. Defendant ACandS was represented by Terry Hall and Kevin Hull of Wolfstone, Panchot & Bloch of Seattle, WA.