Jury Assesses a $1,056,000 Verdict for Retired Washington Paper Mill Worker Suffering from Mesothelioma
Seattle, WA – On Friday, April 6, 2018, after one day of deliberations, a federal jury in Seattle, Washington found in favor of Geraldine Barabin on her survival claim on behalf of her deceased husband Henry Barabin, a retired Camus Paper Mill worker who suffered and died from mesothelioma. The Barabins were represented by partner James P. Nevin of Brayton Purcell LLP.
The case had previously gone to verdict in favor of the Barabins on November 19, 2009. However, the defendants appealed, incorrectly alleging that they had asked for, and the trial judge had failed to make, a complete Daubert record regarding plaintiffs’ experts. After many years on appeal, the 9th Circuit vacated the verdict and remanded the case for a new trial. After a very long wait, the Barabin’s once again prevailed at trial.
The trial against Scapa Dryer Fabrics, Inc., a former manufacturer of asbestos-containing dryer fabrics used on paper machines, centered around the issues of products liability design defect, products liability failure to warn, and negligence. The jury determined that Scapa Dryer Fabrics, Inc. was negligent.
The jury assessed $750,000 in economic damages for medical expenses, loss of household services and loss of income, and $306,000 non-economic damages.
Workplace Asbestos Exposure the Cause of Mesothelioma
Mr. Barabin worked as a laborer at the Texaco Refinery in Port Arthur, Texas from 1964-1968. From 1968 to 2001, he worked at the Crown Zellerbach paper mill in Camas, Washington as a pulp tester, paper tester, spare hand, fifth hand, fourth hand, third hand, winderman, and filterman. He retied in 2001, and moved to Sun City, Arizona.
In 2006, Mr. Barabin was diagnosed with mesothelioma, an asbestos-caused cancer of the pleura, the organ that protects the lungs. After diagnosis, he underwent surgery, fluid drainage, pleurodesis, four rounds of chemotherapy, and many imaging tests during his battle with this fatal disease. Mr. Barabin managed to beat the odds and bravely fought his mesothelioma for a long time before finally passing away on March 30, 2012
During his career at the plant from 1968 until he transferred to a newly constructed building in 1984, Mr. Barabin was exposed to dust released from the asbestos-containing dryer fabrics during normal operation, handling, replacement, disposal, and clean up. In addition to simply being present on a daily basis in the contaminated plant, one of Mr. Barabin’s jobs was to clean out the paper machine’s dryer fabrics on a daily basis, during maintenance and dryer fabric replacement shutdowns. All these activities exposed Mr. Barabin to asbestos dust from Scapa Dryer Fabrics, Inc. products as well as other point sources.
Defendant Maintains Products Were Safe, Evidence at Trial Showed Otherwise
Scapa Dryer Fabrics, Inc. supplied asbestos-containing dryer fabrics without warning of any hazard for use on the paper machines at the Camas, WA plant up until 1982 when they ceased putting asbestos in the fabrics. Scapa claimed that their products did not release asbestos because they were often wet and that the asbestos was encapsulated within the material. They contended their products were safe and did not require any warnings.
At trial, plaintiffs presented evidence demonstrating that when used as intended, hazardous levels of respirable asbestos dust was released from Scapa Dryer Fabrics, Inc. asbestos-containing dryer fabrics.
By 1968, it had long been firmly established in medicine and science that asbestos dust caused asbestosis, pleural disease, lung cancer, and mesothelioma. Yet, Scapa Dryer Fabrics, Inc. supplied their defective asbestos-containing fabrics without any testing or warnings. Plaintiffs demonstrated that asbestos dust from defendant’s product contributed to causing Mr. Barabin’s mesothelioma.
“When Henry Barabin was working around this deadly material, he had no idea that it could one day cause him to develop fatal cancer. The jury appreciated that wet or dry, new or used, resin-treated or not, open or closed weave, that the dryer fabrics released asbestos dust, which contributed to the total significant identified dose of asbestos that Mr. Barabin breathed, causing his mesothelioma and premature death,” said James P. Nevin, counsel for the Barabins.
Defendant Scapa Dryer Fabrics, Inc. was represented by Lane Young and Christopher Collier of Hawkins & Parnell LLP, and Nicole MacKenzie of Williams Kastner LLP.
The trial began on March 26, 2018, and was presided over by United States District Court Judge James L. Robart in Department 14128 of the United States District Court, Western District of Washington, Seattle, Washington. The jury was empaneled, opening statements were presented, and the jury heard all the evidence. Closing summations were given on April 5, 2018, and the jury reached its verdict on April 6, 2018.
“We are gratified that now two separate juries have rejected Scapa’s defenses and found for the Barabin family, who are truly good people that did not deserve this mesothelioma.”, said Mr. Nevin.