Oregon Jury Assesses Over $659,000 in Mesothelioma Case
Patching Compound May Have Contained Asbestos
Multnomah County, OR — A jury determined on June 14, 2004, that a floor installer suffering from the cancer mesothelioma was entitled to over $659,000 due to his on–the–job exposure to asbestos. Plaintiff Morris “Bill” Nagl was first diagnosed with the asbestos pleural disease in 2001, and then with malignant mesothelioma and asbestosis in August 2003. He wanted to fight his cancer and completed two months of chemotherapy. He then underwent radiation therapy during the summer and fall of the following year. He died from mesothelioma in November 2004 at the age of 80.
Mr. Nagl had lived in Aurora, Oregon, with his wife, Donna. He had three adult children from a previous marriage. He was first exposed to asbestos when he worked in the Oregon shipyards for two, two–month stints before serving in the US Marines Air Corp from 1943–1946. In the Marines, Mr. Nagl served onboard B–25 bomber crews as a gunner over the Pacific.
Following his military service, Mr. Nagl returned to his home town of Aurora, Oregon, and began working as a mail carrier. On occasion, one of his customers needed some home improvement work done, and he began doing odd jobs to earn some supplemental income. Word spread that Bill Nagl was the man to go to if you needed a new floor installed. Once Mr. Nagl established himself as a floor installer, he went into business for himself, installing floors, and selling floor tile products. Mr. Nagl’s business was called Nagl & Son Floor Covering. Mr. Nagl’s wife at the time, Ruth Nagl, ran the store and dealt with customers and suppliers.
Mr. Nagl worked on hundreds of homes in Northern Oregon installing new floors. He used various hazardous asbestos-containing products, including vinyl asbestos floor tile, sheet flooring products, floor leveling compounds, and joint compounds. One of these products was Dowman Fix–All patching compound. Mr. Nagl said he used Fix–All on virtually every job he worked on, both as a floor leveling material and to patch small holes in the walls.
In the past, Dowman claimed that the only product in which it ever used asbestos was in its 3–T joint compound, and that Fix–All was “asbestos-free.” However, evidence at trial showed that Dowman was receiving more asbestos fiber than what the company claimed was in the 3–T joint compound, and the company was unable to explain where the extra rail carloads of asbestos ended up. Further evidence showed that Dowman used the same mixers in production to mixing the 3–T joint compound as it did for the Fix–All product. The jury concluded that, even if Fix–All was not asbestos-containing, as Dowman claimed, the product was surely contaminated with asbestos from the mixers.
Mr. Nagl said he always had a bag of Fix–All in the van. He was not your typical 80-year-old man, and was known to still go for bike rides and walks around his property in Aurora, Oregon, even a few months before his death from mesothelioma.