A jury has awarded Weitz & Luxenberg clients, Marlena and Ed Robaey, a $75 million verdict after decades of asbestos exposure led to Mrs. Robaey’s mesothelioma. This is the largest single case verdict ever for Weitz & Luxenberg.
“This verdict is a major victory for our clients, who have suffered immensely because negligent companies failed to warn mechanics about the dangers of being exposed to asbestos in their products,” said Danny Kraft, associate attorney for Weitz & Luxenberg. “While this verdict will not give Mrs. Robaey her health back, it will serve as a warning to companies that they will be held accountable for their actions.”
Victims Unknowingly Exposed Through Work and Hobby
Marlena and Ed Robaey met at Huntington Hospital in the early 1970s, where Marlena was a nurse and Ed was a maintenance mechanic. Ed was frequently exposed to asbestos dust while on the job, and by wearing his dust-covered clothes home, he unknowingly exposed his wife to the deadly substance.
Ed is also a car enthusiast and was formerly a drag racer. Marlena would assist Ed while he worked on overhauling the engines in his race cars every 2-3 weeks, which he did for approximately 20 years. While both Ed and Marlena described how they could see asbestos dust emanating from worn gaskets Ed removed from the engines, neither were aware that the dust was a carcinogen, as there were no warnings on the gaskets or packaging about the dangers of asbestos.
In November 2012, Marlena was diagnosed with malignant peritoneal mesothelioma, a cancer of the abdomen lining, and shortly after testifying at trial in December she entered hospice care for her illness.
“Despite the fact that her mesothelioma has spread and she faces unrelenting symptoms associated with the cancer, Mrs. Robaey remains determined to fight this insidious disease,” said Peter Tambini, associate attorney for Weitz & Luxenberg.
W&L Demands Justice for Negligence
In his summation at the trial, Kraft said, “[Mesothelioma] may be actually killing [Ed Robaey’s] wife, but it’s killing him too. And it’s killing him because not only is he seeing it, not only is he living with it, but he feels he’s to blame… because he was the one working on the cars. He’s not the one to blame. [The defendants] are.”
The verdict was issued on January 20, 2017 in New York County Supreme Court. During the trial, defendants testified that the asbestos in their gaskets was not a substantial contributing factor in the development of Marlena’s disease – a defense that the jury rejected. Defendant Dana Companies, LLC was found 40% liable for the pain and suffering it caused the Robaeys, and the company Fel-Pro was found 30% liable, among other defendants who previously settled.
Along with Kraft and Tambini, plaintiffs were represented by Jerry Kristal of Weitz & Luxenberg. The $75 million verdict is Weitz & Luxenberg’s largest single case verdict ever.
Marlena Robaey testified at trial on December 20 and December 21, 2016, but was unable to attend closing arguments because she entered hospice care during the holiday break.