After more than three years of litigation, the California state Supreme Court has decided in favor of a now-deceased mesothelioma victim. Though Frank C. Hart did not live to see his victory, legal experts say it will have long-lasting positive impacts for other victims of exposure to asbestos.
Asbestos Company’s Defeat in Mesothelioma Lawsuit Rests on Witness Memory of Invoice
The original 2017 lawsuit filed by Mr. Hart accused pipe supply company Keenan Properties of providing the asbestos-contaminated pipes that he blamed for his mesothelioma diagnosis. Though the construction worker and his wife settled with other defendants in the suit, Keenan defended themselves in court and the jury ordered them to pay $1.6 million to the victim.
Though one of the witnesses in the mesothelioma lawsuit had testified to having seen Keenan Properties’ logo on the invoices for the contaminated pipes, the company’s attorneys had argued that because the invoices had been destroyed, the testimony was hearsay and should not have been allowed. They appealed the $1.6 million damages and the verdict itself, and the appellate court agreed, but the state Supreme Court reversed that judgment saying that the name and logo was circumstantial evidence rather than hearsay.
State Supreme Court Rules That Observation of Company Name Is Sufficient for Mesothelioma Decision
The distinction that the California Supreme Court made in Mr. Hart’s between hearsay evidence and circumstantial evidence is likely to prove helpful to future mesothelioma plaintiffs. Justice Carol A. Corrigan wrote that the foreman’s “observations were circumstantial evidence of Keenan’s identity as the source of the pipes.” She further wrote, “Taken together, the evidence was relevant to prove the disputed link between Keenan and the pipes, regardless of the content the words on the invoice might otherwise have asserted.”
The state Supreme Court’s decision in the mesothelioma case was unanimous and reinstated the $1.6 million jury award. It will now return to the appeals court regarding the apportionment of the damages based upon settlements with other defendants.
Page Reviewed and Edited by Mesothelioma Attorney Paul Danziger
Paul Danziger grew up in Houston, Texas and earned a law degree from Northwestern University School of Law in Chicago. For over 25 years years he has focused on representing mesothelioma cancer victims and others hurt by asbestos exposure. Paul and his law firm have represented thousands of people diagnosed with mesothelioma, asbestosis, and lung cancer, recovering significant compensation for injured clients. Every client is extremely important to Paul and he will take every call from clients who want to speak with him. Paul and his law firm handle mesothelioma cases throughout the United States.