Legislation & Litigation

Jury Awards $9M to Victim’s Family in Virginia Asbestos Case

Written By:
February 20, 2012
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Written By: Mark Hall,
February 20, 2012

The family of John Bristow won a $9.18 million award in a Newport News, Virginia, asbestos case on Friday. The jury decided that John Crane Inc. was ultimately liable for Bristow contracting mesothelioma.

Bristow, 68, died more than a year ago from mesothelioma cancer after working for 37 years as a shipyard worker where he was exposed to asbestos. He is survived by a wife and two sons.

Mesothelioma is a rare and aggressive disease caused by asbestos exposure. This disease claims approximately 3,000 deaths per year, many of which are related to occupational hazards associated with shipyards, construction work or other industrial fields.

The jury deliberated for eight hours Thursday and Friday before settling on its verdict and award total.

Trial and Award

The verdict concluded a three-week trial, and the $9.18 million award came close to the $9.95 million figure that the family’s attorney requested.

The total award makes the case one of the largest asbestos verdicts in Virginia history.

“It was an agonizing two days of nail biting, waiting for the jury,” said Bobby Hatten, lead attorney for the plaintiff. “It’s very satisfying to know that they believed us and trusted our evidence and that they assigned a high value to the life of a very, very good man.”

The total award consisted of $3.5 million for Bristow’s pain and suffering, $2 million for losses suffered by his wife, along with $2.5 million for losses suffered by his sons. Additionally, $780,000 was awarded to compensate his wife for what she endured while he was sick.

For medical expenses, the jury awarded $141,295 and an additional $11,611 for funeral expenses. Moreover, $250,000 was awarded to cover expenses that the family has related to things that Bristow used to do.

Illinois-based John Crane Inc. was held 100 percent accountable for damages because the company was the only one of six potentially liable companies to take this case to trial. Five others settled out of court for undisclosed sums. The attorney for the Bristow family expects John Crane Inc. to appeal the case.

John Crane is known for manufacturing various asbestos-containing products, including gaskets, piping, exhaust systems, boiler lining, sheet packing and multiple other parts.

Tom Burns, the attorney who represented John Crane in the trial, argued that blame should be assigned to other companies, citing that insulating material, which is a product not manufactured by his company, was more likely to blame for Bristow’s cancer.

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