Gordon & Rees Trial Teams Win Two Defense Verdicts in One Week

In the span of a single week, Gordon Rees Scully Mansukhani  trial teams won  defense verdicts on behalf of clients Hennessy Industries, LLC in California and Colgate-Palmolive in Kentucky. These results demonstrate not only the skill and dedication of the firm’s  trial lawyers, but the tremendous depth of the firm’s  trial teams, enabling them to defend multiple clients in diverse jurisdictions.

Verdict # 1 – Hennessy Industries Wins Los Angeles Asbestos Trial

On July 29, Gordon & Rees attorneys Bob Rich and Rob Rodriguez won a complete defense verdict on behalf of Hennessy after a seven-week jury trial in Los Angeles Superior Court. Plaintiff Randolph Morton sought to hold Hennessy and Pneumo Abex liable for his stage IV lung cancer. There was no evidence of any smoking history. Mr. Morton alleged that his lung cancer was caused by his use of AMMCO’s brake grinder in the 1960s, primarily in high school auto shop class from 1962-65. During trial, Plaintiffs argued that in the 1960s most passenger vehicle brakes contained asbestos, and that the medical and scientific community was well aware of the hazards associated with grinding such brakes. They further argued that AMMCO was effectively put on notice of such hazards and at a minimum should have warned its customers of the dangers associated with asbestos. Plaintiffs, represented by Simona Farrise and Trey Jones, sought in excess of $5 million in economic and non-economic damages, plus punitive damages.

Hennessy’s trial team argued that AMMCO acted reasonably and prudently throughout the relevant time period. Hennessy also argued that Mr. Morton’s limited asbestos exposure from brakes was insufficient to increase his risk of developing lung cancer. The defense experts included Dr. Lucian Chirieac, Dr. Allan Feingold, Mary Finn, Ph.D (IH), and Dominik Alexander, Ph.D. (epidemiologist). Plaintiff’s experts included Dr. Brody, Charlie Ay, Dr. Barry Castleman, and pulmonologist Dr. Barry Horn.

The Santa Monica jury returned a defense verdict in favor of Hennessy and Pneumo Abex.

Verdict # 2 – Colgate Wins Kentucky’s First Cosmetic Talcum Powder Trial

On Friday, August 2, the Gordon & Rees trial team of Edward Slaughter, Quincy Jones, Mark Crapo, Andrea Holmgreen, and Maddie Wiarda received a complete defense verdict on behalf of client Colgate-Palmolive Company in the first cosmetic talcum powder trial in Kentucky. After a three-week trial in the Jefferson Circuit Court in Louisville, Kentucky, the jury returned a defense verdict for defendants Colgate-Palmolive Company and Johnson & Johnson after less than one hour of deliberation.

Plaintiff was represented by Joseph Satterley (Kazan, McClain, Satterley & Greenwood; Satterley & Kelley) and Paul Kelley (Satterley & Kelley—a local Kentucky firm). Plaintiff sued both Colgate-Palmolive Company and Johnson & Johnson claiming her mother’s death in 2016 was due to the inhalation of asbestos through her use of allegedly contaminated talcum powder. Plaintiff sought over $5 million in damages, not including punitive damages.

This is a significant victory, particularly considering the increase in talcum powder cases being filed against cosmetic talcum powder manufacturers and suppliers throughout the United States.

Hon. Garrett L. Wong takes over as San Francisco Asbestos Department Presiding Judge

Judge Garrett L. Wong  formally replaced  the Hon, Teri L. Jackson  as the San Francisco Superior Court Asbestos Presiding Judge on January 11, 2016.   Judge Wong is a San Francisco native and graduate of the University of California, Berkeley and the University of Pennsylvania Law School.

Judge Wong wonghas a diverse professional background, with experience in civil and criminal litigation in both the public and private sector. He has worked as a deputy public defender, a commercial, criminal and environmental litigator in private practice, and as in-house counsel for SBC Communications.  In 2005, he was appointed to the San Francisco Superior Court by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. For eight years, he served as both a misdemeanor and trial judge at the Hall of Justice in San Francisco.   In 2014, Judge Wong began serving as an Associate Judge for the Appellate Panel at San Francisco Superior Court. He is now the Presiding Judge for the Appellate Panel. Although Judge Wong has only served as a civil judge for two years, he already has presided over several asbestos cases.

The San Francisco Superior Court carries the largest asbestos litigation caseload of any of California’s 58 Superior Courts. In 2009, the Court created a single asbestos case management department to handle asbestos cases.  Like his predecessor, Judge Wong will continue the Court’s efforts to efficiently move asbestos cases towards trial and resolution.

Actor Ed Lauter’s Family Sues Over Alleged Asbestos Exposure

The family of Ed Lauter, an actor who appeared in  TV shows (The Office, ER, Murder She Wrote, The Rockford Files ) and in movies (The Longest Yard, The Artist), is suing CBS and General Electric (which owns NBC) claiming that Mr. Lauter’s mesothelioma was a result of asbestos exposure while working at facilities owned by these defendants. The family is also claiming that he had exposure from working on Ford automobiles. The case is venued in Los Angeles Superior Court and the plaintiffs are represented by Simmons Browder.

Mr. Lauter is one of several in the entertainment field who have died from mesothelioma, including Steve McQueen, Merlin Olsen and Warren Zevon.