Family Wins $11 Million in Asbestos Lawsuit

Last week, a family was awarded $11 million by an Oakland, California jury in a wrongful death asbestos lawsuit. The award comes after $4 million was already awarded for a previously filed personal injury lawsuit.

According to court documents, Emily Bankhead, along with daughters, Tammy Bankhead and Debbie Bankhead-Meiers, filed the wrongful death lawsuit in California’s Alameda Superior Court in June of 2012. The suit was filed against Pneumo Abex LLC, a manufacturer that supplied asbestos-covered brake linings to various companies.

From 1965 until 1999, Gordon Bankhead, Emily’s husband, worked as a parts representative for an array of heavy-duty automobiles and trucks. He was responsible for the regular inspection, cleaning, replacing, and grinding of brakes that were littered with asbestos. The asbestos used in the brakes was primarily provided by Pneumo Abex LLC. .

In 2010, Gordon was diagnosed with mesothelioma and subsequently filed an asbestos lawsuit a few months later. However, just a little over a year later in October of 2011, Gordon died from complications related to his illness. His family, however, pursued the case, and filed the wrongful death lawsuit, which also sought damages for loss of companionship.

During the wrongful death case, Pneumo Abex was banned from defending and disputing their responsibilities. However, the jury was not aware of the previous asbestos personal injury lawsuit. Instead, the jury was simply asked to figure out a compensation amount for the family, who lost a companion who still had an estimated 17 years of life expectancy before he died from his illness.

According to the asbestos attorney for the plaintiffs, Gordon was in good physical health prior to being diagnosed with mesothelioma:

“Immediately prior to the conduct of defendants herein giving rise to the decedent’s exposure to asbestos and asbestos-containing materials and before the fatal asbestos-related disease was diagnosed, plaintiff’s decedent was an adult person in good physical and mental condition and was a faithful and dutiful husband and father,” the attorney said.

The complaint also stated that Pneumo knew of the dangers of asbestos exposure, yet did nothing at all to protect workers.

“Each of the foregoing acts, suggestions, assertions and forebearances to act when a duty existed to act, the said defendants, and each of them, having such knowledge, knowing the decedent did not have such knowledge and would breathe such material innocently, was done falsely and fraudulently and with full intent to induce decedent to work in a dangerous environment and to cause decedent to remain unaware of the true facts,” the complaint read.

The lawsuit took place in two phases, with the first phase establishing negligent damages and the second phase establishing punitive damages. During the first phase, the jury determined that the defendants were not only responsible for failure to warn of the risks of asbestos exposure, but also provided faulty brake linings. During the second phase, the jury determined that the defendants were willfully negligent.

Along with Pneumo Apex, several other brake manufacturers were listed and found guilty of negligence as well. Most company representatives left before the second phase of the trial, but Pneumo Apex, along with manufacturer ArvinMeritor, were both named responsible in the second portion.

Gordon’s family received $1.47 million for past and future economic loss, $1.5 million for pain and suffering, $1 million for loss of spouse support, and $9 million in punitive damages.

Keep in mind that if you or a loved one have been diagnosed with an asbestos-related disease, you may be entitled to compensatory damages. For more information and to understand your legal rights, contact our leading mesothelioma lawyers today for a free, no-obligation case consultation.

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