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Cal. jury returns defense verdict for John Crane Inc. in $13M asbestos trial

By Heather Isringhausen Gvillo | Nov 20, 2014

LOS ANGELES (Legal Newsline) – On Monday, a California federal jury returned a unanimous defense verdict in an asbestos wrongful death case in favor of defendant John Crane, Inc.

Judge Dale S. Fischer presided over the seven-day trial in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, where the seven-member jury deliberated for eight hours before reaching a verdict.

During trial, the plaintiffs’ counsel asked the jury to award $13 million in compensatory damages for Susan Hill and sought unspecified punitive damages.

However, the jury determined that John Crane, Inc., was not negligent, its products did not fail to perform as safely as an ordinary customer would have expected, the risks of its products’ design did not outweigh the benefits and the potential risks did not present a substantial danger to users.

Plaintiff Susan Hill filed the wrongful death case individually and as personal representative of the estate of decedent Charles Tyrone Hill.

Hill filed the complaint against more than 45 defendants, but only John Crane, Inc., remained at the time of the verdict.

The decedent worked as a pipefitter at three San Diego-based shipyards from 1960 until 1975 where he allegedly worked primarily with John Crane, Inc. asbestos-containing gaskets. The decedent developed mesothelioma from his alleged occupational asbestos exposure, resulting in his death.

“The jury did a good job of understanding the reality of amosite pipe insulation exposure in a shipyard and that gaskets and packing did not contribute to his disease,” said Robert E. Thackston of Hawkins Parnell Thackston & Young LLP, lead trial attorney for John Crane, Inc.

During trial, Fischer precluded the plaintiffs’ experts from testifying about the “every exposure theory,” which argues that each and every exposure above background substantially contributed to the decedent’s risk of developing an asbestos-related injury.

Thackston was joined by Paula D. Pendley as counsel for the defense. Julia A. Gowin and Andrew S. Russell assisted.

Attorneys Stuart Purdy and Tyson Gamble of Simon Greenstone Panatier & Bartless, PC, tried the case for the plaintiffs.

From Legal Newsline: Reach Heather Isringhausen Gvillo at

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