Georgia Jury Reaches Defense Verdict for Crane Co.; Judge Declares Mistrial as to Claims Against John Crane

July 26, 2013 – Media Coverage
HarrisMartin

SAVANNAH, Ga. –– A Georgia jury has reached a defense verdict for Crane Co. in a paper mill asbestos exposure case, but the judge presiding over the proceedings declared a mistrial as to the jury’s finding against John Crane, sources told HarrisMartin.

After jurors reached July 26 verdict, in which they found against John Crane but awarded no damages, Chief Judge H. Gregory Fowler of the Georgia State Court for Chatham County declared a mistrial, citing Georgia law requiring a jury to award damages if they conclude that the defendant was liable, sources added.

John Crane and Crane Co. were the lone remaining defendants at the time of the verdict. Buffalo Pumps and Goulds Pumps reached settlement agreements with the plaintiffs during trial, sources said.

The jury deliberated for approximately eight hours over two days before reaching the verdict.

The plaintiffs alleged during the three-week trial that Perry Wilson Adams was exposed to asbestos-containing insulation, gaskets and packing used in caustic and acid lines that bleached pulp in a number of paper mills, including the Mahrt paper mill in Cottonton, Ala. The plaintiffs maintained throughout the trial that the defendants’ products –– specifically blue African gaskets –– were used on the acid lines.

During trial, however, John Crane and Crane Co. both argued that there was a question of whether their products were used on the acid lines in the paper mill where Adams was employed. The defendants specifically contended that there was no evidence that they used blue African gaskets with their products, and, further, that even if their products did contain asbestos, they would not have produced enough exposure to cause Adams’ mesothelioma.

Crane Co. asserted the additional argument that it could not be held liable for replacement products manufactured by a third-part and later used in its valves.

The jury agreed, finding no negligence on the part of Crane Co.

Jurors did, however, conclude that John Crane was negligent. Judge Fowler accepted the verdict as to Crane Co., but declared a mistrial as to John Crane.

Testifying on behalf of the plaintiffs were Jerry Lauderdale, CIH; Samuel Hammar, M.D.; David Rosner, historian; and Bill Longo, materials analyst.

Testifying on behalf of the defendants were Paul Carlson, CIH; David Galbraith, M.D.; Charles Blake, CIH; and Donna Ringo, CIH.

The plaintiffs were represented by Gary DiMuzio of Patten, Wornom, Hatten & Diamonstein in Newport News, Va.; and Robert C. Buck of the Buck Law Firm in Atlanta.

Counsel for Crane Co. were Clifton T. Hutchinson and David A. Fusco of K&L Gates in Dallas and Pittsburgh, respectively; and Lee Ann Anand of Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough LLP in Atlanta.

John Crane was represented by Ollie M. Harton of Hawkins Parnell & Young in Atlanta; and Daniel R. Griffin of O’Connell, Tivin, Miller & Burns in Milwaukee.

Adams v. A.W. Chesterton Co., et al., No. STCV1003924 (Ga. State Ct., Chatham Cty.).

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