Verdict For Retired Year Old Longshoreman
On Wednesday, November 29, 2017, after a six (6) week trial and less than one (1) day of deliberations, a San Francisco jury assessed a verdict in favor of 81-year-old plaintiff George Lucas against defendant Triple A Machine Shop, Inc., a shipyard contractor, deciding that defendant Triple A was negligent and contributed to causing Mr. Lucas’ mesothelioma. The jury assessed $760,000.00 in economic damages and $23,500,000.00 in non-economic damages. The jury assigned twenty-seven percent (27%) of the liability to defendant Triple A.
Mr. Lucas was diagnosed with pleural mesothelioma, a debilitating and fatal cancer of the lining surrounding the lungs, in August 2016, underwent two thoracentisis procedures, a talc pleuraldecisis procedure, and multiple rounds of chemotherapy in an attempt to prolong his life and ease his suffering. Mr. Lucas passed away on Thursday, November 30, 2017, the day after the jury assessed its verdict in his favor.
From 1959 to 2001, Mr. Lucas worked as a longshoreman laborer and as a longshoreman clerk throughout the many San Francisco Bay Area piers where break-bulk ships would load and unload cargo. From 1959 to 1986, frequently during breaks, Mr. Lucas went into the engine rooms of ships to get warm. Often Triple A was in these same engine rooms, removing and installing asbestos-containing thermal insulation, gaskets, and packing. Triple A never provided any warnings, never performed any testing, and never used any breathing precautions or dust controls, and therefore they intermittently subjected Mr. Lucas to bystander exposure to asbestos dust.
At trial, plaintiffs presented evidence showing that Triple A knew or should have known of the medical and scientific literature, as well as California and various Federal regulations, dating back to 1930 that specifically required them to know of, test for, and warn of asbestos hazards, and to use precautions to protect both their employees and bystanders from the hazards of breathing asbestos dust.
“Triple A’s defense was to blame the victim, claiming he ‘had no business being in the engine rooms’, to blame the entire shipyard contractor industry claiming ‘everybody did it so we can’t be negligent’, and to blame the bags of raw asbestos fiber that Mr. Lucas occasionally unloaded as part of his job duties. But, the jury utterly rejected those false defenses,” said James P. Nevin, counsel for Mr. Lucas. Mr. Nevin also stated, “I was overjoyed to be able to provide Mr. Lucas with the news of the jury’s courageous verdict, such that he passed away in peace the very next day knowing that his family would be provided for. He was a good man, truly the salt of the earth, he will be missed.”
James P. Nevin, Esq., partner with Brayton Purcell LLP, was trial counsel for Mr. Lucas.
The trial, which began in October, was presided over by the Honorable Andrew Y.S. Cheng, Department 606, San Francisco Superior Court. Triple A was represented at trial by Robert Bettette, Esq. and Robert Menchini, Esq. of Foley & Mansfield LLP.
Court: San Francisco Superior Court
Case No.: CGC 16-2765498
Judge: Honorable Andrew Y.S. Cheng
Trial Type: Jury of 12
Length: 6 weeks
Parties: George Lucas, Plaintiff
Triple A Machine Shop, Inc., Defendant
Verdict: November 29, 2017 ($24,260,000.00)
For: Plaintiff George Lucas
Against: Defendant Triple A Machine Shop, Inc.
Damages: Economic Damages: $760,000.00
Non-Economic Damages: $23,500,000.00
Total = $24,260,000.00
Causes of action: Triple A Machine Shop, Inc.: Negligence
For Plaintiff: James P. Nevin, Partner, Brayton Purcell LLP, Novato, California.
For Triple A Machine Shop, Inc.: Robert Bettette, Esq. and Robert Mencheni of Foley & Mansfield LLP
Mr. Charles Ay (California Certified Asbestos Consultant)
Dr. Richard Cohen, M.D., M.P.H (Occupational and Preventive Medicine)
Dr. Barry Horn, M.D. (Pulmonary/Critical Care Medicine)
Dr. Allan Smith, M.D. (U.K), PH.D (Epidemiology)
Dr. Stephen Compton, PH.D. (Microscopy)
Dr. Arnold Brody, PH.D. (Cellular Biology)
Mr. Kyle Dotson (Certified Industrial Hygienist)