$13,227,939 Verdict for Retired San Francisco Electrician
On Friday, November 2, 2012, after a one week trial and ½ day of deliberations, a San Francisco jury found Kaiser Gypsum Company, Inc., a manufacturer of joint compounds, guilty of acting with oppression or malice by clear and convincing evidence and levied a $6,000,000 punitive damages verdict against defendant Kaiser Gypsum Company, Inc.
This followed a verdict on October 25, 2012, after a nine-week trial and 2 ½ days of deliberations, when the same San Francisco jury ruled against defendant Kaiser Gypsum Company, Inc. in a negligence and products liability trial. The jury found that Kaiser Gypsum Company, Inc. was negligent, in addition to determining that Kaiser Gypsum Company, Inc.’s asbestos-containing joint compounds were defectively designed and contained a failure to warn product defect. The jury assessed $507,939 in economic damages and $6,720,000 in non-economic damages. The jury assigned 5 percent of the liability to the defendant Kaiser Gypsum Company, Inc.
Mr. Melvin Desin has been courageously battling asbestos-caused mesothelioma, an invariably fatal cancer of the lining of the lungs caused exclusively by asbestos, since his diagnosis in April of 2011.
Mr. Desin served in the United States Coast Guard and worked as an electrician at numerous residential sites and commercial buildings throughout San Francisco between 1953 and 1997 when he retired from working in the electrician trade. Mr. Desin worked directly with asbestos-containing products and near others that used and disturbed asbestos-containing products.
At trial, plaintiffs presented evidence showing that the knowledge of hazards of exposure to asbestos dates prior to the 1920s. Indeed, knowledge of its dangers had progressed to the point of knowing it caused cancer by at least as early as the 1950s.
“We are grateful for the jury’s efforts in this case and believe they made the right decision,” said Gilbert Purcell, counsel for Mr. Desin. “Mr. Desin is a strong-willed, courageous family man who is well-deserving and saw justice done today.” Gilbert Purcell of Brayton Purcell LLP, represented Melvin Desin.
The trial, which began in August, was presided over by the Honorable Suzanne Bolanos who sits in Department 602 of the San Francisco Superior Court. Defendant Kaiser Gypsum Company, Inc., was represented at trial by Jennifer Judin, Esq. And Julie A. Torres, Esq. of Dehay & Elliston LLP.