California Jury Returns Defense Verdict in Alameda County
Following a six week jury trial before Judge Julia Spain in Department 705 of the Alameda County Superior Court, a 12 panel jury found in favor of John Crane Inc. on several asbestos-related product liability claims made by Plaintiff, James Harkin. John Crane Inc. was represented by Bill Fountain, Claire Weglarz, and Joseph R. Connelly III of Hawkins Parnell & Young, LLP. Plaintiff was represented by Jennifer Alesio of Brayton Purcell. Defendant Oscar E. Erickson Incorporated was represented by Ingrid Campagne and Kurt Putnam of WFBM, LLC.
Plaintiff claimed his mesothelioma was caused by exposure to asbestos from valve packing manufactured by John Crane Inc., as well as from working in the presence of Oscar E. Erickson employees while they disturbed asbestos containing materials at one of several oil refineries where he worked. Plaintiff brought claims for product liability (product defect and failure to warn) and negligence. Plaintiff's case-in-chief consisted of six expert witnesses and spanned over four weeks. Plaintiff called Dr. Allan Smith, Dr. David Tarin, Dr. Arnold Brody, Dr. Richard Cohen, Dr. Barry Horn, and Mr. Christopher DePasquale, C.I.H. John Crane Inc. put on its defense in less than a week calling Dr. Victor Roggli and Mr. John Henshaw, C.I.H.
After deliberating for less than three hours, the jury never had to directly address the issue of medical causation. The jury overwhelmingly agreed with John Crane Inc. that the packing allegedly used by Mr. Harkin was not defective or dangerous, and that John Crane Inc. was not negligent in its manufacture and sale of valve packing. During closing arguments, Plaintiff's counsel used hypothetical scenarios to invite the jury to award hundreds of millions of dollars to Plaintiff. The jury declined this invitation finding in favor of both John Crane Inc. and Oscar E. Erickson, and returning a complete defense verdict.
Case No: RG15758794, James Harkin v. John Crane Inc., et al.