PHOENIX, Arizona – A federal jury in Phoenix awarded a substantial amount in damages to the family of a retired civilian employee of the U.S. Navy who died from the fatal asbestos disease mesothelioma after working for years in the Norfolk Naval Shipyard in Virginia.
Trial testimony showed that George Coulbourn worked as a shipyard machinist from 1959 to 1966, where he primarily repaired and maintained equipment on naval ships. Those duties included the regular removal of asbestos-containing gaskets and packing from valves manufactured by the defendants and their predecessors.
Mr. Coulbourn died in 2012 at age 73, less than a year after being diagnosed with mesothelioma, a terminal cancer found in the lining of the lungs that is primarily caused by asbestos exposure. He and his wife retired to Lake Havasu City, Arizona, following Mr. Coulbourn’s almost 37-year career as a civilian employee of the U.S. Navy.
Jurors returned their verdict April 22 following a three-week trial and four hours of deliberations. They assessed $9 million in compensatory damages with 20 percent responsibility for Mr. Coulbourn’s injuries and death against Connecticut-based industrial product manufacturer Crane Co. (NYSE: CR) and 5 percent against Cincinnati-based valve manufacturer William Powell Co. Jurors determined that other companies and the U.S. Navy were liable for the remaining 75 percent of exposure.
The verdict also included $5 million in punitive damages against Crane Co. and $3 million against William Powell Co.
“These companies have been denying the hazards of their asbestos products for decades, but the truth is that they have known since at least the 1930s that asbestos could kill,” said David Greenstone, trial attorney for the Coulbourn family and a founding shareholder in Dallas-based Simon Greenstone Panatier P.C. “They never warned Mr. Coulbourn about the potential hazards. He died due to their negligence, and this jury held them accountable. Hopefully, this verdict will help the Coulbourn family find a measure of comfort and closure after so much pain.”
The case is Sandra Brown Coulbourn, surviving wife and on behalf of decedent’s surviving statutory beneficiaries, George Coulbourn, Jr., Scott Alan Coulbourn and Shannon Coulbourn Moses v. Crane Co., et al., No. CV 3:13-cv-08141-PCT-SRB.
In addition to Mr. Greenstone, the Coulbourn Family was represented by Simon Greenstone Panatier, P.C. associates Jordan Blumenfeld-James and Sam Iola.
Simon Greenstone Panatier is a nationally recognized trial law firm with a reputation for creative and aggressive representation of clients in a wide variety of catastrophic personal injury matters nationwide.
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