Retired Rear Admiral Stricken with Malignant Mesothelioma Awarded $2.5 Million

Thousands of individuals are diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma in the United States each year, and a significant portion is made up of veterans of America’s Armed Forces. Of those most served in the Navy, working in shipyards, boiler rooms or engine rooms. The exposure to asbestos took place throughout the vessels, which made heavy use of asbestos in their construction. A lawsuit recently conducted over Zoom made clear that no one who served aboard a ship during the years between World War II and the Afghanistan and Iraq wars was safe from risk of exposure: the victim was a retired Rear Admiral who’d served on several different ships throughout his career. A California jury awarded him and his wife $2.5 million in damages.

Rear Admiral with Mesothelioma Accuses Metalclad Insulation of Negligence

The mesothelioma lawsuit was filed by retired Rear Admiral Ronald Wilgenbusch and his wife Judith against Metalclad Insulation. The former officer blamed the company for having exposed him to asbestos via the insulation used on the Navy ships on which he served.

As a result of the pandemic, the mesothelioma case was conducted over Zoom rather than in person in the Alameda County, California courtroom as originally planned. This presented several complications which the defense attorneys attempted to use as basis for a mistrial. They complained that the admiral had voiced his opinions about the process in a way that was inappropriate. In response the admiral’s attorneys indicated that expert witnesses for the defense had used the COVID-19 crisis as an excuse for not producing documents that they’d requested. While Superior Court Judge Brad Seligman acknowledged the challenges, he also denied Metalclad’s attorneys’ motions for dismissal.

Troubling Expert Witness Testimony in Mesothelioma Lawsuit

As part of their defense against liability for Wilgenbusch’s mesothelioma, Metalclad presented Donald Rees Trueblood as an expert witness to testify that the company’s products were not “pure asbestos,” saying that instead they simply “contained” asbestos. He also indicated that those contaminated products had stopped being sold after 1973. Upon being questioned about whether the company had taken any steps to protect those who might have been exposed to the carcinogenic material he acknowledged that no instructions or warnings had been provided either about the danger of exposure to the products or of how to safely remove it. Apparently his arguments did not convince the jury, which awarded the couple $2.5 million in damages.

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Paul Danziger

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.

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