Asbestos Trial Ends in $7.25 Million Verdict for Family of Victim

The estate and family of a man who died from mesothelioma were awarded $7.25 million after a two week trial in a common pleas court in Pennsylvania.  Edward Merwitz was diagnosed with mesothelioma in January of 2010 and died only six months later.  He is survived by his wife Carol and their two daughters.  According to the family’s lawyer, Lawrence R. Cohan, the jury “found liability among a variety of companies that sell electrical wires, pumps and motors, which are not your typical suppliers of asbestos trial.”  The $7.25 million verdict includes $3.5 million in wrongful death damages and $3.2 million in survivor benefits.

The Asbestos Exposure

Merwitz was exposed to asbestos through his work in the Philadelphia Navy Yard from 1965 to 1970.  He worked in the bilge area of warships and handled asbestos-containing products such as gaskets, packing, pumps, turbines, control boxes, electric motors, and electric wire.  In addition, Merwitz regularly handled pipe covering and other insulation materials that were utilized by other people in similar trades.  At the time, asbestos warnings were not present; Merwitz was also not offered any protection from asbestos fibers by being issued protective materials.

The Defendant

Initially, there were many defendants, including companies such as Westinghouse, Buffalo Pumps, General Electric Company, Greene Tweed & Company, Inc., Warren Pumps LLC, and Square D Company.  All of these defendants chose to settle with the family, leaving only one: Rockbestos, which is now RSCC Wire & Cable LLC.

Rockbestos initially offered $2,500 in an attempt to settle the case before the trial.  With the $7.25 million verdict, Rockbestos is now liable for its share, which is $805,000.

The Claims

Rockbestos presented many defenses, all of which were ultimately rejected by the jury.  The first claim was that a witness who worked with Merwitz in the past stated that the asbestos in the products manufactured by Rockbestos was never identified.  Next, Rockbestos attempted to establish that the electric wires Merwitz interacted with were not the cause of his mesothelioma by showing that he worked with the wires infrequently, and therefore was not around them enough to develop asbestos-related health issues.

The Merwitz family’s lawyer commented, “This was a bitterly contested case over the full course of the two week trial.  As other defendants settled, it was clear that defendant Rockbestos intended to assert all of its defenses, and to let the jury decide the case.  The jury rejected them all.”

The Aftermath

Even though Rockbestos is not footing the entire amount of the verdict, the Merwitz family is still satisfied with the result.  “Mrs. Merwitz and her two daughters were ecstatic.  They understand that each defendant only pays its share and feel that justice was done,” commented the family’s attorney.

Contact an Asbestos Attorney

Asbestos exposure can cause serious health problems, including mesothelioma or lung cancer.  If you or a relative has health issues related to asbestos exposure, you may be eligible for compensation.  Contact an experienced asbestos attorney today.


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