February 13, 2018, PLLR News
Failure to warn of asbestos hazards
Suit against John Crane Inc. and other companies alleged that it sold the asbestos-containing gaskets and packing the plaintiff was exposed to during his time in the Navy and during the course of his employment. The plaintiffs alleged the products were defective, both in their failure to warn of their hazardous nature and in their design. The jury awarded more than $5.6 million. Sprague v. John Crane Inc.
Robert Sprague Jr. served in the United States Navy, then worked as a pipefitter, welder, and carpenter. In 2015, when he was 74, he was diagnosed as having mesothelioma. Despite lung surgery, additional mesothelioma tumors were discovered on his lung. His past medical expenses totaled at least $300,000, and he anticipates more than $1.5 million in future medical expenses and monitoring costs.
Sprague and his wife brought products liability and negligence claims against John Crane Inc., which, along with other companies, sold the asbestos-containing gaskets and packing Sprague was exposed to during his time in the Navy; during the course of his occupation; and from 1971 to 1975, when he performed home remodeling. The plaintiffs argued that the packing and gasket products were defective both in their failure to warn of their hazardous nature and in their design and that Sprague’s exposure to these products was a substantial factor in the development of his disease. Additionally, the plaintiffs asserted, the defendant knew or had reason to know that its products were dangerous or likely to be dangerous because the hazards of exposure to asbestos-containing products were known since the late 1800s.
The defense argued that Sprague had failed to take any measures to avoid breathing in dust and failed to ask his employers for breathing protection.
The jury awarded more than $5.6 million, including $3 million in punitive damages and approximately $783,200 to Sprague’s wife. The jury apportioned liability at 65 percent to the Navy, 20 percent to the defendant, 10 percent to another manufacturer, and 5 percent to Sprague.
Citation: Sprague v. John Crane Inc., No. 15CV14771 (Or. Cir. Ct. Multnomah Cnty. Aug. 4, 2017).
Plaintiff counsel: Meredith B. Good and Hannah Shangraw, both of Portland, Ore.