$730,000 Trial Verdict for Retired Boilermaker and Ship Surveyor
On Thursday, November 14, 2013, after an eight-week trial and 2 days of deliberations, a San Francisco jury assessed a verdict against RPI Company (fka Plant Insulation Company), an insulation contractor who formally held the exclusive distribution rights to PABCO brand asbestos insulation in Northern California, deciding that RPI Company (fka Plant Insulation Company) was negligent. The jury assessed $480,000 in economic damages and $250,000 in non-economic damages. The jury assigned 5 percent of the liability to defendant RPI Company (fka Plant Insulation Company).
Mr. Charles Akins was diagnosed with peritoneal mesothelioma, a debilitating and fatal cancer of the lining of the abdomen, in October 2008, underwent radical debulking surgery, and has been battling the disease ever since.
From the 1960s to 1990s, Mr. Akins worked as a boilermaker at Hunters Point Naval Shipyard, San Francisco, California, and as a ship surveyor and later a supervisor at several San Francisco Bay Area shipyards. While he was a ship surveyor, from 1972 to 1976, RPI Company (fka Plant Insulation Company) insulators installed and removed asbestos-containing thermal pipe insulation in his vicinity in the boiler rooms of various U.S. Navy ships undergoing repair. They did so without following any of the asbestos safety protocols mandated by the U.S. Navy and OSHA.
At trial, plaintiffs presented evidence showing that RPI Company (fka Plant Insulation Company) knew that asbestos was deadly in 1960, yet failed to warn, failed to test, and continued to install and remove asbestos insulation without following safety protocols.
“RPI Company (fka Plant Insulation Company)’s defense was to blame the victim, but the jury recognized that it was the defendant that was on trial,” said James P. Nevin, counsel for Mr. Akins. “Mr. Akins will be comforted during his remaining time on this earth knowing that the jury agreed that RPI Company (fka Plant Insulation Company) contributed to his total dose of asbestos that caused his mesothelioma and therefore they cannot escape some accountability.” James P. Nevin, partner with Brayton❖Purcell LLP, was trial counsel for Mr. Akins.
The trial, which began in September, was presided over by the Honorable Teri L. Jackson, San Francisco Superior Court. RPI Company (fka Plant Insulation Company) was represented at trial by Duncan Lemmon, Esq. and Robert Bettette, Esq. of Foley & Mansfield LLP.