Tire Plant Worker Exposed to Asbestos Receives $18.6 Million Jury Verdict Award

Carl Rogers had been working at a tire plant owned by Kelly-Springfield Tire Co., which is a Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. subsidiary. He started working at the plant in 1969 and left employment after just one year. He returned to work there in 1975, and he continued working through the mid-1980s. Rogers worked with various tire-building machines but also used asbestos-containing brake assemblies.

He was exposed to asbestos during his ongoing repair and replacement of asbestos pipe installation at the Goodyear plant.

In August 2008, he was diagnosed with mesothelioma as a result of being exposed to asbestos. He died the next year at the age of 60 survived by his wife and two adult daughters. His paid medical expenses stipulated at the jury trial were $170,000.

His wife sued Goodyear Tire & Rubber claiming that the company was grossly negligent in choosing not to protect him from the workplace asbestos hazards even though they knew asbestos exposure caused mesothelioma. In addition, the Rogers lawsuit claimed that the plant chose not to perform employee monitoring required by OSHA. It was also alleged that Goodyear did not provide protective equipment and warn workers at its plant of asbestos exposure.

In the trial, the plaintiff entered evidence that in 1972 OSHA first issued its asbestos exposure standard, which called for employee monitoring in all workplaces where asbestos was used so that employers could determine the existence and extent of workers’ exposure and a possible need for a compliance program.

No compliance program was initiated by Goodyear even though it was shown at trial that a 1981 internal memorandum made it clear that management was concerned that the use of asbestos at the plant would trigger an expensive compliance program and cautioned the plan should include avoiding the “obvious” use of asbestos.

The plaintiff was also able to introduce evidence to the jury that it was more than ten years before Goodyear began limited monitoring of the kind that was required by OSHA in 1972.

There was also evidence at trial that plant workers, including Rogers, were medically examined only when needed. Thus, Rogers received no chest x-ray while he worked there. Goodyear argued that Rogers was not exposed to asbestos in any sufficient quantity to have caused his mesothelioma. The jury found that Rogers’s workplace exposure had caused his mesothelioma and entered its verdict of $18.6 million, which included $15 million in punitive damages.

The attorneys representing the Rogers family were Christopher J. Panatier and Darren P. McDowell. The lawyers for the Rogers family indicated that motions and a possible appeal could be forthcoming from Goodyear.

Rogers v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co., No. 10-03294-E (Tex., Dallas Co. Ct. at Law No. 5 Sept. 5, 2014).

Kreisman Law Offices has been handling asbestos exposure cases, workplace injury cases, construction site accident cases and catastrophic injury cases for individuals and families who have been harmed, injured or died as a result of the carelessness or negligence of another for more than 38 years in and around Chicago, Cook County and its surrounding areas, including Glenview, Glencoe, Gurnee, Hoffman Estates, Homewood, Highwood, Richton Park, Schiller Park, Forest Park, Crestwood, Blue Island, South Holland, Calumet City, Barrington, Bellwood, Maywood, Joliet, Elgin, Aurora, Lemont, Chicago (Englewood, Lawndale, Rogers Park, Irving Park, Jefferson Park, Hyde Park, Hegewisch, East Side, Bridgeport, Canaryville, Back of the Yards), Mundelein, Midlothian and Arlington Heights, Ill.

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