James Stock, Jr. was exposed to asbestos used in and on valves manufactured and supplied by Jenkins Bros. when he was employed by by New York Wire Mills in Tonawanda from 1979 to 1986. In August 2015, Mr. Stock went to the hospital complaining of abdominal pain that had been bothering him for a few months. By December 2016, he was formally diagnosed with mesothelioma.
Mr. Stock sued Jenkins Bros. and others (manufacturers, sellers and distributors) in Erie County claiming that he’d been exposed to asbestos which caused his mesothelioma and that the defendants were liable because they failed to warn him about the hazards of asbestos exposure.
On September 24, 2018, the jury found in plaintiff’s favor and awarded him pain and suffering damages in the sum of $6,000,000 ($4,500,000 past – three years, $1,500,000 future – one year). Jenkins Bros., by then the sole remaining defendant after others settled, argued that the damages award was excessive. The trial judge denied defendant’s motion and, in Stock v. Air & Liquid Systems Corp. (4th Dept. 2020), the verdict has been affirmed.
Here are the injury details:
- Abdominal and chest pain beginning three years before trial, intermittent at first but continuous for the two years prior to trial
- 8 surgeries including a thoracotomy, rib resection, extrapleural pneumonectomy and bronchial stump resection
- Four rounds of chemotherapy and one of radiation, with complications
- Unable to continue recreational activities such as hunting, golfing and working out
- Unable to continue working as a police officer
- Unable to play with grandkids or perform household chores
Plaintiff, 60 years old at the time of trial, died in September 2019 while the appeal of this case was pending.
- Plaintiff was also awarded past and future lost earnings in the sum of $460,000 and his wife of 39 years was awarded past and future loss of her husband’s services and society in the sum of $500,000.
- In his summation, plaintiff’s attorney asked the jury to award $10,500,000 for pain and suffering while defense counsel suggested no more than $700,000. After trial, defense counsel requested that the pain and suffering award be reduced to $2,000,000.