Pa. Jury Says Companies Must Pay Portion of $3.5 Million Verdict

November 12, 2003 – Media Coverage
HarrisMartin

PHILADELPHIA - Two manufacturers of material that allegedly contained asbestos will pay one-tenth each of the $3.5 million jury verdict after opting not to settle the case following the damages phase of the reverse-bifurcated trial in Philadelphia. Clarence Rabold v. ACandS, et al.,Dec. 2001-3141 (Pa. Ct. of Comm. Pls., Phildelphia Cty.).

Jurors returned the verdict Oct. 27 after hearing argument stemming from allegations that plaintiff Clarence Rabold's exposure to asbestos-containing material caused him to develop mesothelioma. Eight of the 10 companies that were present at the start of trial settled with Rabold after jurors handed down the $3.5 million in damages.

Defendants Bell Asbestos Mines, Ltd., and Ericsson Inc., decided to go forward with the liability phase of the trial, but the jury found all of the companies equally liable. As a result, the two defendants were found responsible for one-tenth of the total verdict, or $350,000 each.

Rabold alleged that during his 40 years as an electrician at Raybestos Co. in Manheim, Pa., he was exposed to asbestos through various job-related duties, including manufacturing break linings and stripping wires. Rabold, who died three days into the damages phase, testified that he was exposed to raw asbestos fibers manufactured by Bell Asbestos Mines in Quebec. Rabold also testified that he stripped asbestos-containing wires manufactured by Ericsson, Inc. The wires were formerly produced by Anaconda Cable & Wire and Continental Cable & Wire Company, which were later bought by Ericsson Inc.

During the trial, Bell Asbestos Mines argued that there existed no studies supporting claims that chrysotile, the type of raw asbestos used in their product, causes mesothelioma. Ericsson conceded that their wire products contained asbestos, but argued that the asbestos in the wires was encapsulated and not made respirable as a result of the stripping process.

The verdict was one of three issued in the same week. In another trial held earlier in the week, the estates of Luke Andrews and Larry Box were awarded $5.5 million and $6.6 million, respectively, during the damages phase of their trials. However, both cases settled prior to the liability phase. See Related Story This Issue. Judge Mark Bernstein presided over all three cases.

In the Rabold case, the plaintiffs called Daniel DuPont, M.D., pulmonologist, of Upland, Pa. as an expert witness.

Expert witnesses for the defense were Bruce Case, M.D., environmental occupational epidemiology and pathology, from Montreal; Allen Gibbs, M.D., pathologist, from Cardiff, Wales; and Dittorio Argento, Ph.D., environmental engineering, from Cape Coral, Fla.

Representing the plaintiff was Neil B. Kitrosser of Brookman, Rosenberg, Brown & Sandler of Philadelphia.

Counsel for Bell Asbestos Mines Ltd., was Janet Golup of Goldfein & Hosmer of Philadelphia. Ericsson Inc., was represented by Hawkins Parnell & Young in Atlanta.

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