DALLAS – Simon Greenstone Panatier trial lawyers secured a total $12 million verdict on behalf of an 83-year-old Korean War veteran who contracted mesothelioma after years of working with asbestos-containing packing material.
On Friday, following the jury’s unanimous decision for punitive damages, Lorain County Court of Common Pleas Judge Christopher Rothgery added $6 million to the initial jury award of $6.1 million.
Robert Mitchell worked in the stock room at the Pfaudler Co. plant in Elyria, Ohio, for more than 40 years. His responsibilities included assisting in the shipping of specialized glass-coated steel bowls used in chemical and pharmaceutical manufacturing. The work required spending several hours every week cutting rope packing with a band saw, which threw asbestos particles into the air. Despite the packing material’s high concentration of blue crocidolite asbestos, Pfaudler was never warned of the potential dangers or advised on proper handling by Crane Packing Co. (now John Crane, Inc.,) the material’s manufacturer.
“Mr. Mitchell was a dedicated, hard-working employee, doing his work as instructed. He made responsible choices in his life. Neither he nor his employer were ever told of the hazards of this product, which the manufacturer had advertised as ‘completely non-toxic.’ To this day, John Crane claims this product was not dangerous. The evidence showed that once Pfaudler discovered on its own the dangers – a full three years before John Crane issued any type of public warning – the company immediately stopped using it,” said Simon Greenstone Panatier attorney Holly Peterson, who represented Mr. Mitchell’s estate at trial. “But that was too late for Mr. Mitchell, who had many years of life stolen from him due to irresponsible decisions made by the manufacturer.”
Diagnosed in 2016, Mr. Mitchell passed away from the effects of mesothelioma later that year at the age of 83. Single, with no children, his only surviving relative is his 86-year-old brother, James.
“We are grateful to the jury and to Judge Rothgery for this thoughtful verdict,” said Ms. Peterson. “If the law cannot be used to fully compensate for a life lost, then the law means nothing. This verdict shows that Bobby Mitchell’s life mattered to the people of Ohio more than corporate profits. It shows that the people will not tolerate a pattern and practice of treating human life as disposable and not worth protecting.”
The case is the Estate of Robert William Mitchell v. John Crane Inc., Lorain County Ohio Court of Common Pleas, 18-CV-196597.
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Simon Greenstone Panatier, P.C., 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.