Understanding, Managing, and Living with the

Health Effects of Asbestos

Asbestos Lawsuit Passes Appellate Test, $2 Million Verdict Stands

August 1, 2014

Sacramento, CA There are many issues involved with an asbestos lawsuit that can make it complex, regardless of the apparent causation and association to disease from exposure to asbestos in a workplace or industrial setting. And some trials end somewhat curiously, with one judge recently ruling that a plaintiff could not conclusively prove that the defendant was aware, at the time, that mesothelioma could be triggered from secondary exposure to asbestos.

That case was Norma Bootenhoff et al. v. Hormel Foods Corp. et al., Case No. 5:11-cv-01368, in the US District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma. Plaintiff Bootenhoff and her husband held that the work clothes worn home by Mr. Bootenhoff carried asbestos fibers that could have been lethal to Norma Bootenhoff, when she laundered his clothes.

There have been cases where the partner of an asbestos worker was diagnosed with mesothelioma and died in just that fashion - simply through coming into contact with her husband’s clothes while doing the laundry. The husband survived in that case, but his wife did not.

However, in the Bootenhoff case, the judge ruled that there was enough evidence to support the defendant’s claim that it didn’t know about the risk, and there was insufficient proof that Bootenhoff was in harm’s way going forward.

Beyond, however, coming at the losing end of a judge or jury decision, is the fact that asbestos is a known carcinogen and has succeeded in negatively impacting thousands of lives. What’s more, the majority of asbestos claims result in favorable rulings, even on appeal.

One example of that is a recent asbestos mesothelioma lawsuit ruling by a California appeals court that upheld an original jury verdict of $2,072,164 for an asbestos plaintiff claiming to have been exposed to asbestos while working with automotive brake parts manufactured by defendant Pneumo Abex LLC (Abex). Automotive brake components - especially linings - have historically been linked to asbestos exposure given the previous widespread use of asbestos in brakes due to the capacity for asbestos to dissipate heat.

The original jury verdict in the case was for $2 million-plus. Abex appealed the ruling, even as the original plaintiff in the asbestos claims case, James A. Lovelace, succumbed to asbestos mesothelioma and died shortly after the original jury award was announced. His son Michael succeeded his late father in the lawsuit as his father’s successor in interest.

Abex, on appeal, attempted to have the verdict tossed on grounds that Abex was prejudiced during the original trial by the application of an appeals court ruling.

There were other strategies in play in an attempt to have the original verdict tossed, but the appellate court stood by the original ruling. The Court held that there was substantial evidence showing that James. A Lovelace had been exposed to brake dust from the process of sanding and grinding brakes made by Abex and alleged to have contained asbestos.

James A. Lovelace died from asbestos cancer and, specifically, pleural mesothelioma.

The case is Michael Lovelace v. Pneumo Abex LLC, Case No. C072371, in the Court of Appeal of the State of California, Third Appellate District.