When corporate defendants settle lawsuits, it is often for one or more of three reasons:
- The corporation realizes it can’t win.
- The corporation may very well win, but the cost of litigation would make it a Pyrrhic victory.
- The corporation is concerned about its public image.
For whatever reason, Georgia Pacific has settled an asbestos suit for the second time in 45 days–just after the jury was empanelled. Choosing this particular jury had taken lawyers on both sides two full days. The announcement of the settlement came right before opening arguments were scheduled to begin on Thursday, 9 November. Gilbert Carrizales was diagnosed with mesothelioma on 2 March 2007. Less than two weeks later, he filed a suit in which 105 defendants were named initially; ultimately however, all were eliminated except for John Crane and Georgia-Pacific.
Carrizales’ suit alleges that he suffered not only occupational exposure, but also exposure in the course of auto repairs and home renovations. The suit also alleges that both corporations included asbestos-containing materials (ACMs) even after adequate substitutes were available, and failed to provide any proper warnings of health risks associated with asbestos or safety instructions on working with the substance. According to Carrizales’ suit, this constituted willful and wanton misconduct. While Madison County is considered a “judicial hellhole” by defendant corporations who face litigation from injured parties, Georgia-Pacific has actually been quite successful in defending itself against plaintiffs, having been granted defense verdicts in two separate trials over the past two years. Details on this particular settlement were not available, but the fact that Georgia-Pacific was willing to settle strongly suggests that Carrizales had a strong case against the company. This is not the first time Georgia-Pacific has settled a case in recent weeks. A settlement was reached in a similar case late last summer.