Union Carbide, Kelly-Moore Not Liable In $11M Asbestos Row

August 10, 2016 – Media Coverage

Law360, Los Angeles (August 10, 2016, 7:54 PM EDT) -- A California jury on Tuesday cleared Union Carbide Corp., Kelly-Moore Paint Co. and Elementis Chemicals Inc. of liability in a 63-year-old mother of 10’s suit seeking more than $11 million for allegations that she got mesothelioma from asbestos contained in drywall products made or sold by the companies.

After roughly six hours of deliberation, the Torrance, California, jury found in favor of all three defendants, finding that they are not liable for plaintiff Christine Pass’ mesothelioma, according to Union Carbide. Mesothelioma is a cancer of the lining of the lungs that is commonly associated with asbestos exposure.

The jury found that Pass did not breathe asbestos fibers from a product made or sold by Kelly Moore, clearing it of liability straight off the bat, according to the verdict form. The jury found that Pass did breathe asbestos fibers made or distributed by Union Carbide and Elementis, but also found that the defendants were not negligent, and had adequately and fairly warned consumers about the potential dangers of their asbestos products, according to the verdict form.

Union Carbide said in a statement that it thanked the jury for their careful attention and for delivering the defense verdict, and said it would continue to “vigorously defend” all asbestos cases brought against the company.

“Today’s verdict was based on overwhelming evidence that Union Carbide was not negligent in its sale of asbestos, adequately warned its customers and did not sell a defectively designed product,” the company said.

Representatives for Kelly Moore, Elementis and for Pass did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Wednesday.

Pass filed suit in Los Anglees Superior Court in July 2015, accusing a host of companies of bearing the responsibility for her mesothelioma, which she contended was caused by her exposure to several brands of drywall and joint compound products she was exposed to in the 1970s, when her ex-husband worked as a drywall finisher, and she laundered his clothes and also actively helped out on jobs.

The case went to trial against the three remaining defendants — Union Carbide, Elementis and Kelly Moore.

Pass sought roughly $1 million in economic damages, roughly $10 million in noneconomic damages and was seeking additional punitive damages from Union Carbide alone, according to Kelly Moore and Union Carbide.

On Tuesday, the jury refused to award any damages, finding that all three companies had adequately warned buyers of their products about the dangers.

Tuesday’s verdict is the second such victory Union Carbide has had in the Los Angeles courts this year. In February, a Los Angeles jury found the company not liable in a former mechanic and welder’s $20 million mesothelioma trial.

The company argued during that trial that plaintiff Victor Jasniy had failed to prove that he was exposed to Union Carbide's Calidria asbestos, much less that the product caused his cancer.

Jasniy and his wife, Diane, alleged that he developed mesothelioma from exposure to asbestos in his jobs as an automobile mechanic, a welder and an aircraft mechanic in the 1970s and 1980s.

Pass is represented by Anthony Vieira of the Law Offices of Anthony E. Vieira.

Union Carbide is represented by Morton Dubin on Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP, and Matt Ashby of Polsinelli LLP. Elementis is represented by Heather Weakley of Armstrong & Associates. Kelly Moore is represented by Claire Weglarz of Hawkins Parnell & Young.

The case is Christine Louise Pass et al. v. Amcord Inc. et al., case number BC587738, in the Superior Court of the State of California for the County of Los Angeles.