$25 Million Awarded in New York Asbestos Lawsuit


The estate of a man who died of mesothelioma and another man struck by the deadly asbestos-related disease both won a $25 million verdict against Crane Company after a consolidated asbestos trial in New York County Supreme Court.

According to court documents, a six-member jury reached the guilty verdict against Crane after a 28-day-long trial and deliberating for two days. During the trial, jurors determined that electricians Selwyn Hackshaw and Ivan Sweberg were exposed to asbestos present in valves and other products manufactured or sold by Crane, which is based in Stamford, Connecticut.

In addition, the six-member panel determined that Crane failed to warn consumers and workers about asbestos-related dangers connected to the use of the company’s products and equipment. The jurors believed this failure to provide health advisories about exposure to asbestos was a major contributing factor which caused the plaintiff’s mesothelioma.

The jury awarded $10 million to Dorcas Hackshaw, Selwyn Hackshaw estate’s executor, for past pain and suffering dating from the commencement of his mesothelioma to his death.

It also awarded $15 million to Sweberg and his wife Laraine. The award was split – $5 million for past pain and suffering from the beginning of the mesothelioma to the date of the verdict, and $10 million for future pain and suffering.

The jury found Crane, one of 20 defendants in Hackshaw’s case and 30 in Sweberg’s case, to have acted recklessly and without regard for the safety of the plaintiffs and other people.

Hackshaw and Sweberg had filed separate asbestos lawsuits against Crane and various other companies, including General Electric, Goulds Pumps, and Westinghouse Electric Corp. In 2013, the New York County Supreme Court ordered the two cases to be consolidated because many of the legal issues, witnesses, and the companies’ defense arguments were essentially the same.

Hackshaw, who was 74 when he died of mesothelioma last August, worked as an electrician and pipefitter. Part of his job entailed making gaskets out of Crane’s Cranite Asbestos Sheet Gasketing Material. The product contained high amounts of asbestos, ranging between 75% to 85%.

Before his death, Hackshaw said he would use a ball-peen hammer to beat the material into shape, then cut it with a saw to make the gaskets. These activities caused clouds of asbestos dust to form around him.

He also applied and removed asbestos-containing insulation as part of his job as an electrician, especially when he needed to get to the Crane-made gaskets.

Sweberg, 72, worked as an electrician on many construction and building renovation projects between 1962 and 1972.  He was indirectly exposed to asbestos when other workers applied insulation made with the material to pumps, boilers, and other pieces of equipment around his work area.

Sweberg was diagnosed with asbestosis 27 years ago. He was monitoring the disease with yearly CT scans to check on its progress. After a CT scan in 2012, his doctors discovered that Sweberg had developed pleural mesothelioma.

Remember, if you or a loved one have been diagnosed with an asbestos-related disease due to the negligence of another party, you may be entitled to compensatory damages. Contact our leading asbestos law firm today for more information and to learn more about your legal rights and options.