Last month, the jury of a New York City court returned a verdict in favor of two mesothelioma victims–one an electrician, the other a shipyard pipe fitter. As we report such awards fairly regularly on this site, it would seem on the surface that there is nothing remarkable here (although it is of course always good to see justice done). However, these cases are unique in a number of ways.
First of all, the verdicts were directed against companies who had never before lost an asbestos lawsuit.
In one of the cases, Rosenberg v. Alpha Wire, the jury awarded $3 million to estate of Joel Rosenberg for pain and suffering, and an additional $1 million to his wife Sharon for loss of consortium. Mr. Rosenberg, a lifelong member of the International Brotherhood of Electricians (IBEW Local No. 3), was exposed to asbestos at various NYC worksites over the course of his long career, including the Arthur Kill Powerhouse in Staten Island and the Deutsche Bank Building, where a top-notch professional HAZMAT worker recently walked off the job because of harassment brought on by her concern for asbestos safety issues.
It was determined that Rosenberg’s exposure was due to the asbestos insulation of the wires with which he worked for years. The Rosenberg verdict marks the first time that a manufacturer of commercial electrical cable has been held liable for a death caused by one of its products. Unlike Joel Rosenberg, who died from mesothelioma (aged 64) before the end of his trial, Joseph Casale was able to testify at his. Casale, now 66, was a steamfitter who worked at the Brooklyn Navy Yard during the 1960s and ’70s. A member of Local No. 638, Casale developed his mesothelioma from asbestos that insulated valves and steam traps. His jury awarded him $3 million for current and future pain and suffering, and his wife Dolores received $2 million for loss of consortium.
According to the press release, the Casale case represents the first judgment against a manufacturer of valves and steam traps. The law firm which represented both plaintiffs is known for several such asbestos litigation “firsts,” including the first verdicts against the welding and talc industries as well as manufacturers of Navy cable and asbestos gaskets.