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$40 Million Asbestos Exposure Trial Win by W&L for Client with Cancer

April 12, 2023
Home Firm News $40 Million Asbestos Exposure Trial Win by W&L for Client with Cancer

Weitz & Luxenberg has secured a $40 million jury award for the family of William Gaborko in their asbestos lawsuit against Emerson Electric Company.

The Long Beach, California jury found Emerson Electric 65% at fault for Mr. Gaborko’s death from mesothelioma, an asbestos-caused cancer. He was 84 at the time of his passing.

“The Gaborko family is such a great family. We are so happy for them to finally be able to put the litigation behind them. They ultimately have justice for the harm done to their husband and father,” says Benno Ashrafi, W&L partner and head of our Los Angeles office.

W&L’s Team Effort Achieved Success

The Weitz & Luxenberg legal team included attorneys Venus Burns, Leonard Sandoval, and Josiah Parker. All three are based out of L.A. Each team member played a unique role in formulating and presenting the case.

Ms. Burns made jury selection decisions that proved critical to the case. Among other efforts, she cross-examined the defense witnesses — especially their material scientist and Naval expert observer. Her closing arguments were brilliant, resulting in the award.

In addition to opening statement, Mr. Sandoval put Mr. Gaborko’s family members on the stand to discuss how his exposure to asbestos affected his quality of life, since our client died before his trial started. Mr. Sandoval cross-examined the Emerson Electric Corporate representative.

Additionally, Mr. Parker brought his skill at briefing issues on a moment’s notice into play. He also cross-examined the defense toxicologist.

Winning the trial was truly a team effort. Our attorneys were supported in their trial efforts by their W&L team of paralegals, trial technicians, and other support personnel.

Navy Veteran Died from Exposure to Asbestos

Mr. Gaborko was a radioman in the U.S. Navy in the 1950s. He then worked at an electric motor repair and rewind shop beginning in the early 1960s for more than 30 years.

It is not unusual for military personnel to suffer from exposure to asbestos because it is often used throughout the ship they serve on. And while no longer mined in the United States, asbestos can be found in products still on the market, as well as old homes and buildings. (1)

Yet, much of Mr. Gaborko’s exposure came after his military service, from his work with Emerson Electric Company’s US Electric Motors. While doing repair and rewind work on these motors, he was exposed to their internal parts — including asbestos slot insulation, phase insulation, and varnish.

Since our client died before he could be deposed, testimony involving all the product identification and use came from his son. Mark had started working with his dad in the 1980s.

Asbestos Exposure Has Health Risks

Emerson Electric’s negligence ultimately resulted in Mr. Gaborko’s death due to his exposure to asbestos. Mr. Gaborko was repeatedly exposed over the many years he worked with Emerson Electric’s US Electric Motors.

Asbestos presents a variety of health risks despite being a naturally occurring mineral found in rocks and soil. Asbestos forms long, thin fibers which are very strong. (2)

It is a well-known fact that asbestos exposure causes mesothelioma, a form of cancer, and other diseases. (3)

“Working with materials that contain asbestos can release tiny asbestos fibers, too small to see, into the air. Some workers and others who breathed in or swallowed asbestos fibers over many years have developed mesothelioma and other diseases,” according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (4)

Trial Experience Is Key Factor

This case came up for trial in late February 2023. It was presided over by a judge, who ended up declaring a mistrial. This initial mistrial happened because the judge’s personal knowledge conflicted with the testimony of a witness for Emerson Electric.

During the trial, a defense Navy witness testified Mr. Gaborko’s ship was in overhaul in Mare Island. He stated the sailors would not have been allowed to leave the ship during overhaul.

However, the judge himself was in the Navy and believed the Navy witness’ testimony was “counter-factual” to his own experience.

The defense promptly moved for mistrial because the Judge had personal knowledge of facts in dispute. The judge granted the mistrial immediately.

New Trial Ends with a Winning Verdict

A new trial was held with Judge Flurer presiding. This trial resulted in the $40 million verdict for our client’s family, thanks to our team’s legal ability.

During both trials, our entire W&L team fought hard for the Gaborko family — and is proud we were able to see their lawsuit through to victory.

W&L Wins Asbestos Lawsuits

W&L has nearly 40 years of experience representing victims of corporate negligence. We are proud of our long-standing commitment to help our clients, secure justice. This is especially true when working for veterans and their families,

Since our founding as a law firm, W&L has taken it as our mission to help clients gain compensation for harm they suffer due to asbestos exposure. We have had many legal successes.

In another asbestos exposure cancer case with Judge Flurer presiding, Mr. Sandoval served as lead attorney. In that case, W&L won $43 million in damages for our client

W&L attorneys also won a $23 million trial verdict for a fellow tradesman, a lifelong steamfitter. He, too, was diagnosed with cancer caused by exposure to asbestos.

Another winning case garnered a $23 million trial verdict for our client with mesothelioma. Her work in an industrial laundry facility, where she dealt with press pads, resulted in her exposure to asbestos.

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