ANNAPOLIS, Md. (Legal Newsline) – In its majority opinion, the Court of Appeals of Maryland recently stated that a lower court did not abuse its discretion in a case involving a $7.2 million jury award to a former Honeywell employee who claims he was was injured because of asbestos exposure.
According to the July 3 court filing, Wallace & Gale Asbestos Settlement Trust (WGAST) filed two questions for consideration to the court in the case with William Edward Busch Jr., and his wife, Kathleen Busch.
WGAST asked if juries should be told that other defendants have been dismissed from a case when complaints against them are used as evidence and "may asbestos exposure to a specific defendant’s product be inferred from the defendant’s substantial presence elsewhere in the facility?"
"The trial judge was in the best position to observe the presentation of the evidence and how it may have been received by the jury," Judge Glenn T. Harrell Jr. wrote. "It was within her discretion to evaluate the evidence and determine whether it may create confusion, which potential consequence required clarification.
"The circuit court did not abuse its discretion by allowing the Busches to inform the jury of (former defendant) McCormick’s dismissal from this litigation."
Busch began working for the Honeywell Corp. in 1971 where he installed thermostats, sensors, relay stations, fan control systems and automatic temperature-control devices, according to the court filing.
Busch claimed that during his work with Honeywell, he was exposed to asbestos, despite wearing a respirator, while working in Loch Raven High School's boiler room where he cut magnesia block.
According to the court filing, Busch's initial suit involved seven defendants with only four remaining before going to trial. The jury found that Busch had contracted mesothelioma from exposure to insulation installed by contractor Wallace & Gale, Co. (W&G).
He was awarded $14.5 million, which was then reduced by the circuit court to $7.2 million because of absent cross-claims. WGAST then filed for judgment notwithstanding the verdict and a new trial or remittitur, which were denied by the circuit court with the denial affirmed by the Court of Special Appeals.