Asbestos Tiles Not the Cause of Siblings' Mesotheliomas, Jury Finds

April 8, 2004 – Media Coverage

FORT WORTH, Texas - Two siblings diagnosed with peritoneal mesothelioma failed recently in their attempt to link the illnesses to asbestos-containing floor tile that was used by their family's business when they were children. Verret v. American Biltrite, et al., No. 17-200000-03, 48-200001-03 (Texas Dist. Ct., Tarrant Cty.).

Instead, a Tarrant County District Court jury on March 24 sided with defendant American Biltrite, which manufactured the tiles that plaintiffs Paul and Suzanne Verret alleged were the cause of their mesotheliomas. Jurors cleared American Biltrite of any liability in causing the Verrets' injuries after the defendant presented evidence that crocidolite from a Johns-Manville cement pipe manufacturing facility nearby the Verret's home was the likely cause of their diseases.

Evidence at trial indicated that driveways and parking lots in the neighborhoods surrounding the Johns-Manville plant were composed of asbestos tailings and that approximately 20 cases of mesothelioma had been reported among those living near the plant. The Verret's home was less than one mile from the plant, sources said.

The Verrets, who are both in their 50s, argued that the American Biltrite tiles were among the asbestos-containing construction materials to which they were exposed. Paul Verret claimed that he was exposed to asbestos dust while workers around him cut the tile. Suzanne Verret alleged household exposure resulting from dust carried home on her father's and brother's clothing.

However, the defendant argued that any exposure to the floor tile was trivial, as the asbestos released from the product was no greater than that which occurs naturally in the ambient air of any urban area in the United States.

Testifying on behalf of the Verrets were William Longo, Ph.D., epidemiologist, of Atlanta and Edwin Holstein, M.D., occupational medicine, of Boston.

American Biltrite called James Crapo, M.D., pulmonologist, of Denver, and William Dyson, Ph.D., industrial hygienist, of Greensboro, N.C.

The Verrets were represented by William M. Connelly of Richardson, Patrick, Westbrook & Brickman in Charleston, S.C., and E. Spencer Paris of Martin & Jones in Raleigh, N.C.

American Biltrite was represented by Hawkins Parnell & Young in Atlanta and Dallas.

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