Los Angeles Jury Awards $9.2 Million to Plumber and His Wife
November 19, 2008
A Los Angeles jury awarded $9.2 million to Larry Stewart and Janet Stewart against Union Carbide Corporation with regard to Mr. Stewart’s asbestos-caused cancer. Mr. Stewart is dying of malignant mesothelioma, an incurable asbestos-caused cancer. This is believed to be the first punitive damage award in an asbestos case issued against defendant Union Carbide Corporation in the United States.
Mr. Stewart is a 59-year old plumber from Huntington Beach, CA. He was exposed to chrysotile “Calidria” brand asbestos mined, milled and sold by Union Carbide while engaged in new construction of hospitals, high-rise commercial buildings and residential tract homes in Southern California from 1972 through 1977. Drywall (sheetrock) tradesman sanded and swept up dust from Hamilton Materials and U.S. Gypsum (USG) joint tape compounds used to install wallboard materials, causing substantial amounts of asbestos to become airborne.
The particular brands of joint compound products identified by Mr. Stewart were known to have incorporated Union Carbide chrysotile asbestos. From 1963 through the early 1985, Union Carbide mined asbestos from one of North America’s largest asbestos deposits located approximately 55 miles to the east of King City, California. The mine, which has been closed since the 1990s, is now located in the heart of the Clear Creek Recreational Management Area (CCRMA) In May, 2008, the CCRMA was closed by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management in due to excessive levels of chrysotile and amphibole asbestos in the air as tested by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
Mr. and Mrs. Stewart filed this lawsuit in Los Angeles on January 23, 2008. In November, 2008, following a seven-week jury trial, the jury found that the remaining defendant, Union Carbide was responsible, in part, for Larry Stewart’s cancer. The jury found that Union Carbide was negligent, its asbestos was defective and that the company failed to properly warn of asbestos hazards.
The jury awarded Mr. Stewart $2,200,000 in lost income, household services and medical expenses and $500,000 in pain and suffering. Mrs. Stewart was awarded $500,000 for loss of her husband’s consortium, care, comfort and society.