New York Jury Awards a $53-Million Verdict
To Asbestos Victim and
Mealey's Litigation Report
In one of the largest compensatory verdicts for a single plaintiff in the
history of asbestos litigation, a New York
jury on Feb. 8 awarded a mesothelioma victim
and his family a $53 million verdict for his asbestos exposure as a brake
mechanic (Patricia Brown, Individually and as Executrix of the Estate of Stephen
Brown v. AC&S Corp. et al., No. 12658-00, N.Y. Sup., New York Co.).
After a monthlong trial in New York County Supreme Court, the jury awarded
Stephen Brown''s family $53 million against 36 companies for his death from
mesothelioma as a result of exposure to asbestos from work he performed as a
The jury deliberated for a week before rendering the verdict and apportioning
liability between 36 companies. A source told Mealey''s that Honeywell,
successor to Bendix Corp., is liable for 45.75 percent of the $53 million
Brown worked as a brake mechanic at a gas station in Cambridge, Mass., from
1965 to 1968 and from 1972 to 1974. From 1968 to 1972, he was enlisted in the
U.S. Coast Guard and worked at various job sites in engine and boiler rooms. In
1974, Brown returned to the Coast Guard; he retired from the guard in 1990.
In April 2000, Brown was diagnosed with mesothelioma and sued 48 friction
product companies, alleging that they were negligent for exposing him to
asbestos from brake linings he used during his two stints as a brake mechanic.
In December 2000, Brown died of mesothelioma at age 51. His suit was carried on
by his wife, Patricia, and his two sons, Adam and Jason.
At trial, the Browns presented several expert witnesses to prove Brown''s
friction exposure, including state of the art expert David Egilman, an
epidemiologist from Brown University in Providence, R.I.; Elaine Panitz, M.D.,
occupational medicine, Massachusetts; Douglas Pohl, Ph.D,M.D.,
pathologist,Central Maine Medical Center in Lewiston, Maine; and Yasunosuke
Suzuki, M.D.,pathologist, N.Y.
The friction companies contended that Brown''s exposure was not from brake
linings but from his employment in the Coast Guard. The companies also used the
chrysotile defense, claiming that not enough dust is emitted from brake linings
to cause a significant exposure or disease. Expert witnesses who testified on
behalf of the friction companies included pulmonologist James Crapo, M.D., of
Denver and epidemiologist Alexander Walker from New York.
Representing the Browns are Jerry Kristal, Michael P. Roberts and Richard
Meadow of Weitz & Luxenberg in New York. Honeywell is represented by
Jeff Peck of Drinker, Biddle & Shanley in Florham Park, NJ.
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