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Jury Awards $3 Million in Industrial Talc Case; Punitive Phase Begins Nov. 28

November 17, 2006 – Media Coverage

NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. -- A New Jersey jury has awarded $3 million in compensatory damages to the widow of a former potter who claimed he was exposed to asbestos in industrial talc. Hirsch v. Hammill & Gillespie Inc, et al., No. MID-L-2706-03AS (N.J. Super. Ct., Middlesex Cty.).

The Middlesex County Superior Court jury's Nov. 16 verdict is believed to be the first in claims dealing with industrial talc. Industrial talc is an open-pit mined mineral that is often used in ceramic, paint and paper manufacturing, according to published reports.

Bonnie L. Parker said her husband's work with Vanderbilt's NYTAL® 100 industrial talc for seven years while operating pottery studios exposed him to asbestos. Parker's husband, Peter Stanley Hirsch, died in April 2004 of mesothelioma.

Hirsch purchased the industrial talc from defendant Hammill & Gillespie. Hammill & Gillespie and R.T. Vanderbilt Inc., who mined the industrial talc, were both found liable after a four-week trial before Judge Ann G. McCormick.

The defendants argued during trial that there was no asbestos in the industrial talc to which Hirsch was exposed and that Hirsch's mesothelioma was idiopathic. The defendants claimed that even if the industrial talc contained asbestos, the amount was not sufficient enough to cause Hirsch's illness.

Deliberations on punitive damages are scheduled to begin Nov. 28.

The $3 million verdict was broken down into $1.45 million for future loss of earnings; $1.4 million for Hirsch's disability, impairment, loss of enjoyment of life and pain and suffering prior to his death; and $500,000 to Parker for loss of consortium.

Testifying on behalf of the plaintiff was Jerrold Abraham, M.D., pathology, Syracuse, N.Y.

The defendants called to testify Arthur Langer, Ph.D., mineralogist, New York, and Sheldon Rabinowitz, Ph.D., industrial hygiene.

Counsel for the plaintiff are Moshe Maimon and Carmen Victoria St. George of Levy, Phillips & Konigsberg in Lawrenceville, N.J., and Arnold Lakind of Szaferman, Lakind, Blumstein, Blader & Lehmann in Lawrenceville, N.J.

The defendants are represented by Hawkins Parnell & Young in Atlanta; Nora Grimbergen of Hoagland, Longo, Moran, Dunst & Doukas in New Brunswick, N.J.; and Michael Lazarus of McGivney & Kluger in Sparta, N.J.

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