Texas Auto Parts Manufacturer Appeals $75 Million Asbestos Verdict

Thumbnail image for iStock-460053679.jpgDana Cos. LLC, a Texas manufacturer of Victor engine gaskets, and four other defendants in an asbestos cancer lawsuit recently appealed a tremendous verdict in favor of a New York couple that secured $75 million in compensatory damages. The appeal is another unfortunate example of the lengths to which liable parties will go to avoid taking responsibility for their careless actions and compensate victims accordingly.

In this case, the behavior by Dana was especially egregious, and a jury of the plaintiffs’ peers agreed that they clearly intended to send a message to the defendants and other asbestos companies by handing down an award as they did. Throughout the course of the trial, jurors heard testimony from Dana’s own executive about the lengths to which the company went to hide the dangers its asbestos-contaminated products posed to consumers.

According the asbestos cancer lawsuit, the plaintiffs came in contact with asbestos dust from gasket seals manufactured by Dana while working on the husband’s drag racer in the couple’s garage. Over the years of sweeping asbestos dust and washing the husband’s shop clothes, the female plaintiff developed mesothelioma and is currently in hospice care dealing with serious complications from late stage cancer.

The plaintiffs’ attorney accused Dana Cos. LLC, Federal-Mogul Asbestos Personal Injury Trust, Crane Co. and Cleaver Brooks Co. Inc. of deceiving customers by removing warning labels from many asbestos-contaminated products. One former Dana company executive testified that the products contained warning labels all the way to OEM distributors but never came with such messages for the individual packaging sold to consumers.

Give the choice, the plaintiffs’ attorney asserted, the couple would never have used such harmful products had they known the dangers about the asbestos dust contained in the engine gaskets products by Dana. The jury agreed and awarded the female plaintiff $50 million for her damages, including pain and suffering, and an additional $25 to the male plaintiff for his closs of consortium due to his wife’s terminal illness.

Defendants filed their appeal in Manhattan Supreme Court, hoping to reduce or even throw out the verdict on technical grounds. Despite the challenge, the plaintiff’s attorney told media outlets that he is confident the award will stand feels his plaintiffs’ case is solid.

Dana has the most to gain from the appeal. Jurors in the case apportioned 40% of liability to that company alone, putting Dana on the hook for $30 million of the couple’s damages. The appellate judge hearing the case recently set appeal brief deadlines and will take up the issue sometime this year.

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