McGivney and Kluger, P.C. Trial Team Obtains Defense Verdict in Buffalo Asbestos Case Erie County Courthouse

We are pleased to report that a Buffalo jury awarded a defense verdict to Special Electric, the sole remaining defendant in the Peace matter before Justice Jeremiah Moriarty, III.  Plaintiffs were represented by Michael Ponterio and Keith Vona of Lipsitz and Ponterio.  Special Electric was represented by Gary Casimir, Frank Derby, Eric Gernant, and Justin Howland of McGivney & Kluger, P.C.

Mr. Peace (age 74) was diagnosed with mesothelioma.  He and his wife sued several raw asbestos suppliers who sold asbestos to his employer, Durez Plastics of North Tonawanda, New York.  Mr. Peace alleged personal exposure to raw asbestos from 1966 until 1979, when asbestos was no longer in use at the Durez facility. Further, plaintiffs alleged that Special Electric supplied blue crocidolite asbestos to Durez, both directly and as an agent for another company called Special Asbestos Company, Inc.  Additionally, plaintiffs alleged that Special Electric dominated the business of Special Asbestos, such that the corporate veil should be pierced, and the two should be treated as the alter ego of one another.  Plaintiffs also alleged that the sales of raw asbestos were made without warnings, and that the corporate officers knew asbestos was dangerous before the sales were made.  Mr. Peace testified he personally handled blue crocidolite from Special Electric and Special Asbestos in 1969, 1970 and 1971.

Plaintiffs' expert pathologist, Dr. Mark Utell, testified that Mr. Peace’s exposure to raw crocidolite at Durez caused him to develop mesothelioma.  Special Electric's Certified Industrial Hygienist, Kyle Dotson, testified that the knowledge regarding asbestos in the late 1960s and 1970s was in flux and undergoing controversy involving differing opinions.

The jury found that Special Electric was neither 1) the alter ego, nor  2) the agent of Special Asbestos. The jury also found that Special Electric did not sell to Durez.  Overall, the jury awarded the following: $350,000 for past pain and suffering, $810,000 for future pain and suffering, $155,000 for past lost of consortium, and $297,000 for future loss of consortium - for a total verdict of $1,612,000. The following entities, none of which were at trial, were allocated a portion of liability by the jury:  Hedman 50%, Johns Manville, 13%, Asbestos Corporation LTD, 4%, Buffalo Insulation, 7.5%, Carey Canada, 3%, McLaughlin Insulation, 7.5%, North American Asbestos, 13%, Owens-Corning (Kaylo), 1% and Pfaulder, 1%.  Interestingly, Justice Moriarty initially allowed plaintiffs' counsel to object to the verdict, noting he thought it could possibly be inconsistent, and adjourned the trial. The Court later found the verdict to be consistent, and indicated it will enter the defense verdict.