San Francisco Jury Renders a $8.4 Million Dollar Verdict for Former Drywaller with Mesothelioma
San Francisco, CA — June 15, 2009 — After one day of deliberation, a San Francisco jury ruled in favor of Jack Reynolds, a former drywaller from Rio Vista, California, in his products liability trial against Hamilton Materials, Inc., a manufacturer, and distributor of asbestos-containing joint compound. After determining that defendant Hamilton Materials, Inc. was liable, the jury assessed $468,759 in economic damages, and $8,000,000 in non–economic damages, due to Hamilton Materials, Inc.’s contribution in causing Mr. Reynolds’ mesothelioma, an asbestos-caused fatal cancer of the pleura surrounding the lungs.
Jack Reynolds served in the US Navy from 1954–1964 primarily aboard two naval vessels—USS MASON, a naval destroyer, and USS RANGER, an aircraft carrier. Aboard these ships, he worked primarily as a painter and in the laundry service department. After an honorable discharge, Mr. Reynolds went to work for a fellow navy serviceman’s business installing and finishing the drywall in primarily residential construction. He did this until approximately 1973 where his employment changed from construction to the travel industry. His last occupational exposure to asbestos occurred in 1973. He retired in 1999. In 2008, he was diagnosed with left-sided malignant mesothelioma. He has received chemotherapy, multiple drainings of pleural effusions as well as talc pleurodesis designed to help prevent further chest fluid accumulation.
Mesothelioma is an invariably fatal cancer of the lining of the chest wall caused by exposure to asbestos. It most often presents many decades after exposure to asbestos, depending on a worker’s individual susceptibility. Mr. Reynolds currently resides in Rio Vista, California.
Defendant Hamilton Materials, Inc. based in Orange, California, was a manufacturer and supplier of “Red Dot” brand asbestos-containing joint compound from 1963–1977, a product used to fill joints between sheets of drywall which is sanded after application emitting large amounts of dust.
At trial, plaintiffs presented evidence showing that when used as intended, Hamilton Materials, Inc.’s asbestos-containing joint compound products had to be applied, sanded, disturbed, and cleaned up—all of which released hazardous respirable asbestos dust. The jury assigned 20% percent of the liability to Hamilton Materials, Inc.
“We are very happy for Mr. Reynolds and his family as they are deserving, good people,” said Gil Purcell counsel for Jack Reynolds. Gil Purcell, Andrew Chew and Hallie Albert, mesothelioma attorneys of Brayton Purcell LLP, represented Jack Reynolds at trial.
The trial, which began May 20, 2009, was presided over by the Honorable Mary E. Wiss who sits in Department 504 of the San Francisco Superior Court. Defendant Hamilton Materials, Inc. was represented at trial by Thomas J. Tarkoff and Kurt Putnam of Walsworth, Franklin, Bevins and McCall, LLP, San Francisco, California. Other defendants resolved at or during the trial.