New York Jury Awards $51 Million In 2 Asbestos Mesothelioma Trials

New York Jury Awards $51 Million In 2 Asbestos Mesothelioma Trials

NEW YORK - (Mealey's) A New York state jury on Aug. 17 awarded verdicts of $32 million and $19 million to two mesothelioma plaintiffs (Ronald Dummitt, et al. v. A.W. Chesterton, et al., No. 190196/2010, and David Konstantin, et al. v. 630 Third Avenue Associates, et al., No. 090134/2010, N.Y. Sup., New York Co.). 

According to the parties, Ronald Dummitt, 68, served as a fireman, boiler tender and master chief petty officer on Navy ships between 1960 and 1977.  He claims to have developed pleural mesothelioma as a result of exposure to asbestos insulation used in ship boiler rooms. 

Dummitt alleged that he was exposed to asbestos he had to remove while repairing valves made by Crane and deareating feed tanks made by Elliott Turbomachinery. 

David Konstantin, 55, worked for Tishman Realty & Construction Co. Inc.  He claims to have developed testicular mesothelioma as a result of exposure to asbestos dust from drywall joint compound used at two construction projects at which he worked:  622 Third Ave. and the Olympic Towers, both in New York.  

Dummitt and Konstantin sued various asbestos defendants in the New York County Supreme Court.  Their cases were tried together, with Crane Co. and Elliott Turbomachinery Co. the remaining trial defendants in Dummitt's case and Tishman Liquidating Corp. (formerly known as Tishman Realty & Construction Co. Inc.) the remaining trial defendant in Konstantin's case. 

After a nine-week trial, the jury found that Dummitt was exposed to asbestos "in connection with" the defendants' machinery, that the defendants failed to exercise reasonable care by not warning about the hazards of asbestos, that the defendants' actions were a substantial contributing factor to the plaintiffs' injuries and that the defendants acted with reckless disregard for the plaintiff, according to unofficial copies of the verdict forms. 

The jury awarded Dummitt and his wife, Doris Kay Dummitt, $32 million, apportioning 99 percent of the responsibility to Crane and 1 percent of the responsibility to Elliott, the last on a 5-6 jury vote.  The Dummitt award included $16 million for past pain and suffering and $16 million for future pain and suffering. 

The jury found in Konstantin's case that joint compound contained asbestos that was unsafe, that Tishman knew or should have known that the compound was unsafe, that Tishman had supervisory control over drywall contractors and failed to use reasonable care to prevent the unsafe use and handling of the compound, that exposure was a substantial factor in Konstantin's injury and that Tishman acted with reckless disregard for Konstantin. 

The jury also found that the asbestos joint compound was made by nondefendants Georgia-Pacific, Kaiser Gypsum and United States Gypsum.  On 5-6 jury votes, it found that Tishman was 76 percent liable to Konstantin and that the joint compound makers were each 8 percent liable. 

The jury awarded Konstantin $19 million, including $7 million for past pain and suffering and $12 million for future pain and suffering, $64,832 for past lost wages and $485,325 for future lost wages. 

[Editor's Note:  Full coverage will be in the Aug. 24 issue of Mealey's Litigation Report: Asbestos.  For all of your legal news needs, please visit www.lexisnexis.com/mealeys.] 

For more information, call Editor Bryan Redding at 215-988-7741, or email him at bryan.redding@lexisnexis.com.