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Thursday, 15 July 2021 17:19

Washington Supreme Court Upholds $81.5 Million Verdict in Mesothelioma Case

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The Supreme Court of the state of Washington has overturned an appellate court ruling and reinstated a $81.5 million verdict in a wrongful death claim brought by the family of a deceased auto mechanic.

In a July 8 opinion, the justices unanimously concurred the Court of Appeals "overstepped its limited role and inappropriately substituted its own judgment for that of the trial court, and most importantly, the jury."

 

"More than anything I'm grateful the court respected the decision of the jury who sacrificed months of their lives to hear about this case," said trial lawyer Jessica Dean of Dallas-based Dean Omar Branham Shirley LLP. "The message from the Supreme Court is that we trust juries to do their jobs."

 

The original claim was brought by the family and estate of Jerry "Doy" Coogan of Kettle Falls, WA, who died in 2015 at the age of 67 from complications of mesothelioma, a form of cancer caused by asbestos exposure. Coogan worked for decades with asbestos-containing brake pads and other parts supplied by defendant Genuine Parts Company and sold through defendant National Automotive Parts Association (NAPA).

 

Following a 12-week trial, the jury unanimously returned the $81.5 million verdict for compensatory damages against the two companies. After post judgement interest, the current amount of the judgement exceeds $95 million.

 

The court of appeals found the trial court erred by excluding a defense witness, and applied what was termed its own "subjective determination" that the jury's award for Coogan's pain and suffering was excessive. Although the court did not disturb the jury's liability findings against Genuine Parts Company and NAPA, it ordered a new trial on damages.

 

In reversing, the Supreme Court found the court of appeals had failed to...


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