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Illinois Jury Returns $89.6 Million Asbestos Verdict

BLOOMINGTON, Ill. -- An Illinois jury on March 11 returned an $89.6 million verdict against four defendants after finding that three of them conspired to conceal the dangers of asbestos and that one negligently exposed a man to the asbestos that caused his mesothelioma, sources told Mealey Publications (Charles Gillenwater v. Honeywell International Inc., et al., No. 10 L 117, Ill. Cir., McLean Co.). 

The verdict includes $9.6 million in compensatory damages against Honeywell International Inc., Pneumo Abex LLC, Owens-Illinois Inc. and John Crane Inc., sources said.  

In addition, the jury awarded $20 million in punitive damages against Honeywell, $20 million in punitive damages against Pneumo Abex and $40 million in punitive damages against Owens-Illinois.  Punitive damages were not available against John Crane Inc., which was sued for negligence, according to sources. 

Charles Gillenwater filed suit in the McLean County Circuit Court against numerous defendants whose conduct allegedly caused him to be exposed to asbestos.  Gillenwater alleged that Honeywell, Pneumo Abex and Owens Illinois conspired with UNARCO, Johns-Manville, Raybestos-Manhattan, Owens Corning and Metropolitan Life Insurance Co. to conceal information regarding the dangers of asbestos, sources said.  Sources said Gillenwater alleged that the defendants agreed not to warn employees and customers about the hazards asbestos posed. 

Gillenwater claimed that his exposure came while he was employed as a pipefitter during the 1970s and that he was never warned of the dangers of asbestos, according to sources.  In addition, Gillenwater sued John Crane Inc. for negligently exposing him to asbestos in gaskets.  Gillenwater was diagnosed with mesothelioma in 2009, sources said.  He turned 59 during the trial.  A source attributed the jury's large verdict to Gillenwater's relatively young age and expected lifespan. 

[Editor's Note:  Full coverage will be in the March 16 issue.  For all of your legal news needs, please visit] 

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