Jury Awards Dying Painter $17M

MONDAY, AUGUST 17, 2015


A former commercial painter who was diagnosed with terminal mesothelioma after being exposed to asbestos has received a $17 million award from a Miami jury.

The jurors returned their verdict Thursday (Aug. 13), finding that Koch Industries-owned Georgia-Pacific LLC. was 55 percent liable for the 74-year-old’s injury, according to various reports and a webcast of the trial.  

Jurors found co-defendant Dow Chemical Company subsidiary Union Carbide Corp. not liable in the asbestos case.

The award was roughly $12 million less than the plaintiff had sought.

Overseas Exposure

Roy Taylor alleged that he developed mesothelioma—a rare form of cancer which is almost always associated with asbestos exposure —from working as a painting supervisor in Saudi Arabia in the late 1970s.

Taylor’s attorneys from the Ferraro Law Firm argued that Georgia-Pacific’s joint compound, which contained asbestos supplied by Union Carbide, was applied to building walls that Taylor sanded down to prep for painting.

Taylor’s former employer, Raytheon, was found to be 30 percent responsible, but was not a party to the lawsuit. Taylor was found 15 percent responsible, thus, the total amount of damages he is ultimately able to collect for medical bills, pain and suffering is around $9.4 million.

His wife, Suzanne, was also awarded $4 million in the case, for loss of comfort and services.

Arguments in Court

The verdict was handed down following a nine-day trial. During the trial, a physician testified that Taylor may have less than a year to live, reports said.

Taylor was often covered with white dust at the end of the day while working in Saudi Arabia, according to his attorneys.

asbestos removal
©iStock.com / bermau

According to OSHA, "Asbestos workers have increased chances of getting two principal types of cancer: cancer of the lung tissue itself and mesothelioma, a cancer of the thin membrane that surrounds the lung and other internal organs." These cancers do not develop immediately following exposure to the material, but appear only after a number of years.

Attorneys for the two defendants, however, argued that Taylor’s cancer could not be “definitively linked” to his time in Saudi Arabia or their products.

Upon his return to America, Taylor ran a painting business for 30 years and he could have been exposed to other asbestos-containing products during that time, reports said, citing arguments made in court.

The plaintiff’s attorney responded to those arguments as “pure speculation,” but admitted to Courtroom View Network that the case presented a discovery challenge as it involved asbestos exposure that occurred decades ago overseas.

No Appeal Planned

A Georgia-Pacific spokeswoman told D+D News, that the company was disappointed in the outcome of the case, but did not plan to appeal the verdict.

“Georgia-Pacific would like to express sympathy for Mr. and Mrs. Taylor and their family,” spokeswoman Karen Cole said in an emailed statement.

“We are disappointed with the verdict, as we believe the evidence in the trial established that Mr. Taylor was not exposed to Georgia-Pacific’s product and that our product did not play a role in his disease.”

Georgia-Pacific, headquartered in Atlanta, GA, is one of the world's leading makers of tissue, pulp, paper, packaging, building products and related chemicals

The Taylors previously settled cases against Imperial Industries Inc. of Pompano Beach and a subsidiary, Premix-Marbletite Manufacturing Co., which sold spray products, according to the Daily Business Review.

   

Tagged categories: Asbestos; Building materials; Good Technical Practice; Health and safety; Laws and litigation; Lawsuits; North America; Paint; Painters; Surface preparation

Join the Conversation:

Sign in to our community to add your comments.