$24.26 Million Jury Verdict for Bystander Exposure to Asbestos

In 1959 George Lucas started working as a longshore laborer and clerk at various San Francisco Bay-area piers where ships were loaded and unloaded with cargo.

Reportedly during his breaks, he would venture into the ship’s engine rooms to stay warm.  Often, employees of shipyard contractor Triple A Machine Shop Inc. were in the same engine rooms removing and replacing asbestos-containing insulation, gaskets and packing.

The work that he was doing exposed him to substantial amounts of asbestos dust. His bystander exposure from Triple A employees’ work continued until 1986.

In August 2017, he was diagnosed with mesothelioma. Despite two thoracentesis procedures to drain fluid from his lungs, a talc pleurodesis to control malignant pleural effusion and chemotherapy treatments, his prognosis remained poor.

Lucas sued Triple A among others alleging that the company was negligent in choosing not to test for and discover asbestos hazards generated by its work, warn of those hazards and provide dust control and breathing protection for the benefit of its own workers as well as bystanders.

Lucas also sued various other contractors and companies that manufactured or supplied asbestos. The defendants settled confidentially before trial or just after opening statements, and the trial continued against Triple A.

At trial, Lucas offered evidence that Triple A knew or should have known of the medical and scientific literature dating back to the 1920s and federal and state regulations dating back to the 1930s that required it to know of, test for, warn about, and protect against asbestos exposure.

Triple A argued that Lucas was negligent for going into the engine rooms, that his disease resulted from other sources, including the bags of raw asbestos fibers that he occasionally unloaded and that the company’s practices were the same as others in the industry.

The jury signed a verdict for $24.26 million including $760,000 in economic damages for past and future medical expenses, past and future loss of household services, and future economic loss and $23.5 million in noneconomic damages for past and future pain and suffering and emotional distress.

The jury allocated fault at 27% to Triple A and the remainder to the other entities. After allocation of fault and the application of settlement credits and costs, Triple A would have been responsible for approximately $7 million. The parties — that is Lucas and Triple A — later settled for a confidential amount.

The attorneys successfully representing Mr. Lucas were James P. Nevin and Jordan Scott.

At trial, Lucas’s attorneys presented experts in certified asbestos consulting, occupational/preventive medicine, pulmonology, epidemiology, microscopy and cellular biology.

The defendants presented experts at trial in industrial hygiene.

The report of this case also mentioned that the day after the verdict was handed down, Lucas tragically died. He was survived by his daughter and two grandchildren.

Lucas v. Triple A Machine Shop, Inc., No. CGC 16-2765498 (Cal. Super. Ct. San Francisco County).

Kreisman Law Offices has been handling mesothelioma lawsuits, work injury cases, construction site injury lawsuits, forklift accident cases, truck accident lawsuits and car accident lawsuits for individuals, families and loved ones who have been injured, harmed or killed by the carelessness or negligence of another for more than 40 years in and around Chicago, Cook County and its surrounding areas, including Bedford Park, Burbank, Chicago Ridge, Bridgeview, Summit, Wilmette, Evanston, Oak Park, Schiller Park, Northlake, Northbrook, Highwood, Flossmoor, Palos Hills, Hinsdale, Hawthorne Woods, Hanover Park, Wheaton, Bolingbrook, Rolling Meadows, Chicago (Little Italy, Wicker Park, Clybourn Corridor, Roscoe Village, North Center, Ravenswood, Rogers Park, Pulaski Park, Rosehill, West Ridge, Albany Park, Andersonville, Bronzeville, Oakland, Kenwood, Washington Park, Woodlawn, Jackson Park, Grand Crossing), Country Club Hills, Brookfield, Western Springs and Niles, Ill.

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