Former Navy machinist’s mate suffers mesothelioma after exposure to asbestos-containing products

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Recent Cases: Industrial Products & Equipment

December 2009/January 2010, Volume 28, No. 9

Former Navy machinist’s mate suffers mesothelioma after exposure to asbestos-containing products  

Kelemen v. Alfa Laval, Inc., Cal., Los Angeles Co. Super., No. BC384059, Oct. 20, 2009.

David Kelemen served in the U.S. Navy from 1967 to 1975, where he worked as a machinist’s mate in the engine rooms of a ship and two submarines. In November 2007, at age 59, he was diagnosed with mesothelioma. He underwent surgery to remove one lung but faces a poor prognosis. His past medical expenses not covered by insurance totaled about $240,000, and his future anticipated medical expenses were estimated at about $120,000. Kelemen owned a vending machine business with indeterminate annual earnings but was forced to retire soon after his diagnosis because of severe shortness of breath.

Kelemen and his wife sued John Crane, Incorporated, which manufactured asbestos-containing gaskets and packing used aboard the vessels, alleging failure to warn of the dangers of asbestos in the products.

The plaintiffs also filed suit against various other companies that manufactured, designed, or distributed asbestos-con­tain­ing products and equipment to which Kelemen was exposed while aboard the vessels. Suit also named the manufacturers of asbestos-containing automotive friction products to which Kelemen was exposed while servicing his car after he left the Navy.

The claims against the other defendants were resolved, and trial proceeded solely against John Crane. 

The jury awarded $35.5 million, apportioning liability at 70 percent to John Crane and 30 percent to other entities, including the Navy and various other manufacturers. The award included $100,000 for loss of consortium to Kelemen’s wife.

Counsel anticipates that the defendant will file posttrial motions.

The plaintiffs’ experts were Arnold Brody, cell biology, Raleigh, N.C.; Edwin Holstein, occupational medicine, and Eugene Mark, pathology, both of Boston, Mass.; and David Fractor, economics, Pasadena, Cal.

The defendant’s experts were James Delaney, naval operations, Washington, Utah; and Frederick Toca, industrial hygiene, Atlanta, Ga.

Plaintiffs’ Counsel

Jordan Blumenfeld-James, Long Beach, Cal.
Ethan Horn, Long Beach, Cal.


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