Archive for April, 2010
A Los Angeles jury has awarded $8.8M in compensatory damages and $200M in punitive damages in Evans v. A.W. Chesterton, an asbestos trial against defendants CertainTeed and the Los Angeles Department of Water & Power (DWP).
Fault was allocated 70% to CertainTeed and 30% to DWP, but the punitive damage award was only against CertainTeed.
Rhoda Evans contracted mesothelioma as a result of exposure to asbestos fibers that entered Evans’ home on the clothing of her husband Bobby, who cut asbestos pipes for DWP for twenty years.
The 12-person jury heard closing arguments on April 26, 2010.
In closing, plaintiff attorney Bill Levin argued that “CertainTeed is responsible because they sold a product containing a carcinogen without a warning. They absolutely knew that safer alternatives were available…There’s a big difference between a corporation that makes a product and 100% knows that there’s a deadly carcinogen — the worst deadly carcinogen, crocidolite — a company that knows that, and sells it anyway — a big difference between that and a water district that’s just trying to supply water service to a community.”
Los Angeles City Attorney for DWP, Will Pirkey, argued that the DWP “didn’t believe there was a risk to installers because that’s what the manual said…There are line drawings of a worker who is using the various methods of cutting the pipe or handling the pipe. In each and every drawing…there’s no mask. There’s no special clothing of any kind. There’s no gloves, no goggles, no hat. There’s nothing..We did comply with those work manuals…In 1971, the manual came out again, what did it say? Use an electric power saw. It’s ok. 1974, another manual comes out, what does it say? Use an electric power saw…We were never told that if you use a power saw, be it electric or be it gas, that there was going to result in unacceptable levels of exposure to asbestos.”
According to CertainTeed attorney William Sayers, “with manual tools, you get zero exposure levels…[DWP] knew generally about the hazards, they knew not to use the gas powered saw…and the next year DWP started doing it. That’s the evidence in this case…They were cutting safely until 1978.”
This week’s verdicts in Putney v. R.J. Reynolds ($21M) and Townsend v. R.J. Reynolds ($91M) continued Tobacco’s long losing streak in Florida. According to the CVN Engle Verdict Tracker, the Florida plaintiffs have won four in a row over $15M, and nine in a row over $5M.
If the CVN Engle Verdict Tracker chart is missing any Engle verdicts, please mention in the comments.
The jury deliberated for three days in Putney v. R.J. Reynolds before returning a $20M+ damage award.
The jury awarded Margot Putney’s family members — Sharon, Glen, and Guy — $5M each in general damages (pain and suffering) as a result of Margot Putney’s death.
In addition, the jury found by clear and convincing evidence that punitive damages of $2.5M each were warranted against RJ Reynolds and against Phillip Morris, but not against Liggett Group.
The jury also awarded damages of approximately $86.5K for Margot Putney’s medical and funeral expenses. Fault was allocated 35% to Margot Putney, 30% to R.J. Reynolds, 15% to Phillip Morris, and 20% to Liggett.
This morning, the Putney jury began its second day of deliberations.
In closing Phase 2 of the Putney tobacco litigation, Plaintiff attorney Charles Baumberger showed internal Phillip Morris documents evaluating the market potential of a “health cigarette,” suggesting that “the illusion of filtration is important as the fact of filtration.”
“There is no question that the conduct of the defendants was intentional…and the choices the defendants made to conceal, to avoid sharing the information they had, the intent to deceive the public with respect to their product was intentional, and it was gross, flagrant…This controversy was created by the tobacco industry, as a psychological crutch…to buy into if you’re an addict.”
Mr. Baumberger then read to the jury a letter that Margot wrote to her children on her birthday, six weeks before her death.
Defense attorney Dan Webb suggested that when people engage in risky behavior, they must accept the consequences of that behavior.
Webb also challenged Sharon Putney’s credibility, based on her testimony about whether Margot Putney was a heavy alcohol consumer, or whether Sharon had ever suggested to Margot that cigarette smoking was dangerous.
According to Webb, punitive damages were not warranted. Phillip Morris had implemented all the design changes and warnings required by the government, and offered safer cigarettes with lower tar and less nicotine. The product is legal, said Webb, and the only advertisement now is at point of sale, and by email to existing customers.
April 21st, 2010 | Published in Securities
The shareholders of workers compensation insurer Zenith are challenging a proposed $1.4 billion acquisition by Fairfax Financial Holdings, which was announced on February 18, 2010.
Defense fired back in their opening statement in Chanin v. Desert Shadow Endoscopy Center. The plaintiffs alleged that drug companies Baxter and Teva supplied propofol containers that were defective because they were too large, thus encouraging the kind of multi-dose “double-dipping” that could foreseeably result in the spread of blood-born pathogens, such as the Hepatitis C infection that plaintiff Henry Chanin contracted at Desert Shadow Endoscopy.
According to Goodwin Proctor’s Mark Tully, however, the Propofol worked as an anesthetic, exactly as it was supposed to work. The Propofol was not contaminated with Hepatitis. The Propofol did not cause any adverse side effects. Moreover, the small 10ml dose was manufactured through 2007, which was after the plaintiff’s exposure, and it was only discontinued as a result of low demand from doctors.
According to the defense, there is nothing inherently defective in giving a doctor a choice as to which size to buy.
CVN is webcasting the entire Chanin Endoscopy trial live, gavel-to-gavel.
Plaintiff attorney Robert Eglet alleged that Pharmaceutical companies Teva and Baxter delivered defective Propofol packaging that unsafely encouraged health care providers to “double-dip,” which risks the spread of blood-born diseases, such as Hepatitis and HIV.
Eglet said the “Big Secret,” which company emails and testimony would show, was that the pharmaceutical companies knew as early as 1995 that the larger 20ml and 50ml containers encouraged double-dipping, but continued to provide them.
Then in 2001, Eglet said, dosing multiple patients from single vials resulted in a Hepatitis outbreak at an endoscopy center in New York City, which was reported in the New York Times, but the pharmaceutical companies continued to provide Propofol in 50ml vials, with inadequate instruction.
Eglet said that the smaller, safer bottles were less profitable, because they were more expensive to produce, than the larger bottles, so they stopped making the smaller, safer vials.
UPDATE: Plaintiff Attorney Will Kemp, in his opening statement, considered other hepatitis outbreaks at other endoscopy centers, and whether Teva should have provided stronger warnings, given that it knew of problems at endoscopy centers at least six years before Mr. Chanin was treated. According to Mr. Kemp, the evidence would show that Teva inaccurately referred to all sizes of Propofol as “single dose,” but, he said, calling it such does not make it so. ”I could call Mr. Eglet ‘Brad Pitt,’” said Mr. Kemp. “He is not Brad Pitt.”
On direct examination, Sharon Putney testified that her mother, Margot Putney, tried to tell Sharon “Happy Birthday” nine days before her mother’s death, but she “couldn’t get the words out.”
On cross-examination, Sharon Putney testified that she did not remember her mother talking about tobacco company advertising or that her mother had relied upon tobacco company advertising or the “frank statement to cigarette smokers,” although her mother did use cigarette coupons.
April 13th, 2010 | Published in Announcements
However, for those interested in the longer view, here are some important trials that we are watching, and which we intend to cover, assuming that the trials do not settle and that the court approves our application for media coverage.
APR 19: NV – Chanin v. Endoscopy Center (Pharmaceutical Product Liability)
APR 19: WI – Eske v. Allied Insulation (Asbestos)
APR 19: Buonomo v. RJ Reynolds (Tobacco)
APR 22: DE – Zenith Shareholder Litigation (M&A)
APR 26: CA - Baker v. AW Chesterton (Asbestos)
APR 26: OH - Boyd v. Lincoln Electric (Welding Rods)
APR 26: CA - Bardonner v. Suzuki (Product Liability)
APR 27: CA - Knoch v. Safeway (Wage & Hour Class Action)
MAY 10: DE – ACS-Xerox Shareholder Litigation (M&A)
MAY 25: CA - Gonzalez v. Flintkote (Asbestos)
JUN 10: MA - BPR Group v. Bendetson (Business Organizations)
JUN 21: NJ - In re: Zometa (Pharmaceutical)
JUL 12: NJ - In re: Fosomax (Pharmaceutical)
AUG 16: NJ - In re: Zelnorm (Pharmaceutical)
AUG 23: NV – Yago v. Toyota (Products Liability)
AUG 30: CA - Butler v. Taser (Taser Injury)
SEP 27: DE - Air Products v. Airgas (M&A)
OCT 04: MO - Williams v. Brown & Williamson (Tobacco)
We normally don’t list cases on our website until we are approved by the court for coverage, but if you are interested in learning more about any of these cases or our potential coverage, please drop us a line at email@example.com.
And of course, it’s never too early to subscribe, for as little as $49/month.