October 6, 2015, PLLR E-Newsletter | The American Association For Justice

October 6, 2015, PLLR E-Newsletter

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Exposure to asbestos in adhesive caused engineer’s mesothelioma

The plaintiffs sued the adhesive manufacturer’s successor, alleging that the manufacturer was negligent and strictly liable for manufacturing and selling an unreasonably dangerous and defective product. The jury awarded about $804,800. Bagley v. Wyeth Holding Corp.
 

Wayne Bagley worked as an engineer for Sikorsky Aircraft for 33 years, beginning in 1979. During his first year at the company, from August 1979 to June 1980, Bagley worked in the company’s blade shop and was present while other employees sanded asbestos-containing adhesives that were used in the manufacture of helicopter blades. The products included “FM-37”—an asbestos-containing foam adhesive manufactured by American Cyanamid.

In 2011, at age 54, Bagley was diagnosed with mesothelioma. Surgery, four courses of chemotherapy, and five weeks of daily radiation were unsuccessful. He died the following year at age 55, survived by his wife and two adult children.

Bagley’s wife, individually and on behalf of his estate, sued American Cyanamid’s successor, Wyeth Holding Corp., alleging that American Cyanamid was negligent and strictly liable for manufacturing and selling an unreasonably dangerous and defective product. Suit also alleged that the company was aware of the product’s asbestos dangers but failed to warn of the risks.

The lawsuit also named various other defendants, including another adhesive manufacturer and the manufacturers of various other asbestos-containing products to which Bagley was exposed. Those defendants settled or were otherwise dismissed, and the case went to trial against Wyeth Holding.

Although Bagley died before he could testify, the plaintiffs presented testimony from a coworker who shared the same job title and work environment. The coworker testified that he was exposed to asbestos from the sanding of the FM-37 adhesive and that Bagley would have been similarly exposed because the two had started together, trained together, and had desks next to each other.

Wyeth argued that the plaintiffs’ theory was purely speculative because there was no direct evidence that Bagley was exposed to the American Cyanamid product. The defendant also argued that Bagley had been exposed to other manufacturers’ asbestos-containing products and that the other exposures were solely responsible for his disease.

The jury found for the plaintiffs on the strict liability and negligence claims. The jury also found that American Cyanamid failed to provide adequate warnings but that the failure was not a proximate cause of Bagley’s death. The jury awarded about $804,800, including $363,500 in noneconomic damages for pain and suffering and loss of enjoyment of life, $256,000 for loss of consortium, $149,000 for loss of earning capacity, and about $36,300 for medical and funeral expenses. A defense motion to set aside the verdict is pending.

Citation: Bagley v. Wyeth Holding Corp., No. CV12 602 47 25 S (Conn. Super. Ct. Fairfield Dist. Aug. 18, 2015).

Plaintiff counsel: AAJ member Christopher Meisenkothen, AAJ member Brian Kenney, and Laura Vitale, all of New Haven, Conn.

Plaintiff experts: Barry Castleman, public health/asbestos industry history, Baltimore; Arnold Brody, cell/molecular biology/cellular carcinogenesis of mesothelioma, New Orleans; Jerrold Abraham, pulmonary pathology/occupational medicine/epidemiology, Syracuse, N.Y.; and Gary Crakes, forensic economics, Wallingford, Conn.