PHILADELPHIA (Legal Newsline) - A Philadelphia County jury has awarded a shipfitter's family $7.25 million in an asbestos trial, dismissing all of defendant's defenses.
After hearing two weeks of evidence, the family of Edward Merwitz, who died of mesothelioma at the age of 62, won its victory on March 13.
By the time the case was passed off to the jury for deliberations, all but one of nine asbestos manufacturers had settled, leaving only RSCC Wire & Cable, formerly known as Rockbestos Surprenant Cable Corporation.
The verdict awards $3.6 million in survival damages and $3.6 million for wrongful death.
Rockbestos offered a $2,500 settlement before the trial, which was rejected. It will now be responsible for its share of the award, which amounts to about $805,250 - $403,772 for the Survival Act and $401,478 for wrongful death.
Merwitz alleges he was exposed to asbestos while working on U.S. Navy ships at the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard from 1965 until 1970. Part of his job required him to handle asbestos-containing products including gaskets, packing, pumps, electric motors, turbines, control boxes and electric wire.
Merwitz also alleges he was exposed to asbestos-containing pipe covering and insulation through his work.
During trial, the defendant claimed asbestos-containing products were incorrectly identified as theirs. It also argued that its electric wire did not contain asbestos, but instead was manufactured with a safer fiber.
Rockbestos also alleged Merwitz could not have been exposed to its asbestos-containing products frequently enough to have been a significant contributing factor to his mesothelioma development.
RSCC designs and manufactures insulated control, power, instrumentation and specialty electrical cables.
The jury also found Buffalo Pumps, Westinghouse, Blackmer Pumps, General Electric Company, Greene Tweed & Company, Square D Company and Warren Pumps LLC liable for substantially contributing to Merwitz's asbestos-related disease.
Merwitz was later diagnosed with mesothelioma in January 2010, and his family filed the complaint on his behalf in November 2010.
Lawrence R. Cohan of AnapolSchwartz represented Merwitz's family and Robert Corbin represented Rockbestos. Neither attorney responded to interview requests.
Judge Victor Dinubile presided over the case.
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