Jury Assesses a $1,185,500 Verdict for Oakland, California Laborer
San Francisco, CA — June 5, 2009 — After two days of deliberations, a San Francisco jury ruled in favor of Charles Johnson, a former laborer from Oakland, California, in his negligence trial against Plant Insulation Company, a contractor and installer of asbestos-containing thermal insulation. After determining that the defendant Plant Insulation Company was negligent, the jury assessed $435,500 in economic damages, and $750,000 in non–economic damages, due to Plant Insulation Company’s contribution in causing Mr. Johnson’s mesothelioma, an asbestos-caused fatal cancer of the pleura surrounding the lungs.
In addition to his service in the United States Air Force, Mr. Johnson worked as a career laborer, warehouseman, and longshoreman throughout the San Francisco Bay Area from 1952 to 1971. Mr. Johnson worked in the vicinity of others using asbestos-containing thermal insulation, refractory materials, gaskets, and other materials. In addition, Mr. Johnson unloaded bags of asbestos fiber off of ships.
From 1957–1959 at Colgate–Palmolive, Oakland, California, in 1959 at Albert Mills Cereal Company, Oakland, California, and from 1966–1968 at Kaiser Aluminum, San Leandro, California, Mr. Johnson was a bystander to Plant Insulation Company removing and installing asbestos-containing thermal insulation on steam lines.
Defendant Plant Insulation Company, based in Emeryville, California, was a supplier and installer of PABCO asbestos-containing thermal insulation from 1937 to the 1970s.
At trial, plaintiffs presented evidence showing that when used as intended, Plant Insulation Company’s asbestos-containing thermal insulation products had to be mixed, applied, cut, removed, disturbed, and cleaned up—all of which released hazardous respirable asbestos dust into the background of the facility. The jury assigned 1% percent of the liability to Plant Insulation Co.
“We appreciate the jury’s determination to reach a just result for Mr. Johnson.” said James P. Nevin, counsel for Charles Johnson. Mr. Nevin of Brayton Purcell LLP represented Charles Johnson at trial.
The trial, which began May 4, 2009, was presided over by the Honorable John K. Stewart who sits in Department 505 of the San Francisco Superior Court. Defendant Plant Insulation Company was represented at trial by Sheila O’Gara and Daniel Hoye of McKenna Long & Aldridge LLP.