• New Jersey Jury Awards $1.5 Million to 83-Year-Old Plumber for Mesothelioma
  • April 27, 2015 | Authors: Paul C. Johnson; Timothy D. Rau
  • Law Firms: Marshall Dennehey Warner Coleman & Goggin, P.C. - Cherry Hill Office ; Marshall Dennehey Warner Coleman & Goggin, P.C. - Philadelphia Office
  • A Middlesex County jury recently handed down a $1.5 million verdict in favor of the plaintiff in a New Jersey asbestos lawsuit before the Honorable Ana C. Viscomi, JSC. The plaintiffs, Ronald Roe and Donna Rowe, his wife, sued a variety of defendants for asbestos exposure arising out of Ronald Rowe’s 35-year career as a residential heating and plumbing contractor.

    Ronald Rowe alleged that he encountered asbestos cement and pipe covering products when he installed, maintained and serviced heating and plumbing equipment, such as boilers, burners, furnaces and other products. As a result of the alleged exposure, he claimed that he contracted mesothelioma. Ronald Rowe also testified that he also worked for two years in the automotive industry, working on brakes, gaskets and clutches.

    Mr. Rowe, 83-years-old at the time of trial, did not appear or testify in person at trial since he now resides in Arizona and did not wish to travel to New Jersey.

    The plaintiff tried the case against the sole remaining defendant, Universal Supply Company, on the allegation that they sold 1,000 pounds of raw asbestos to the plaintiff over the course of his career. Universal did not dispute the sales or the quantity; however, they did dispute the characterization of the product as “raw asbestos,” maintaining that Universal actually sold cement products to the plaintiff. Universal presented a fiber defense.

    After deliberating for parts of four days, the jury returned its verdict on February 24, 2015, awarding Ronald Rowe $250,000 for compensatory damages and $500,000 for future damages. The jury awarded Donna Rowe $250,000 for her present per quod claim and $500,000 for future damages.

    The jury allocated 20% liability to Universal Supply, for a total verdict to Universal Supply of $300,000. The jury apportioned liability to several additional settled defendants as follows: Borg Warner - 5%; Burnham - 14%; Dana - 6%; ECR/Dunkirk - 9%; Honeywell - 14%; Peerless - 12%; Trane/American Standard - 10%; Weil McLain - 10%.