Mississippi Judge Throws Out $322 Million Verdict in Asbestos Lawsuit
According to an Associated Press report, the case involved a lawsuit filed in a Smith County, Mississippi court on behalf of 48-year-old Thomas Brown. Brown claimed that he was diagnosed with asbestosis, which he attributes to inhaling asbestos dust while mixing drilling mud sold and manufactured by Chevron Phillips Chemical Co. and the Union Carbide Corporation.
Brown says that since his diagnosis, he has been required to remain on oxygen 24 hours a day. Asbestosis is a condition that involves scarring of the lung tissue caused by the inhalation of asbestos fibers. If left untreated, asbestosis can eventually turn into mesothelioma, a form of lung cancer caused by asbestos exposure.
In May 2011, a jury awarded Brown $300 million in punitive damages and $22 million in actual damages. Shortly afterward, defense attorneys for Union Carbide asked Circuit Judge Eddie Bowen to set aside the verdict. They also asked the judge to step down from the case. When Judge Bowen failed to respond to these requests, Union Carbide attorneys asked the state Supreme Court to remove him.
The request was based on Union Carbide’s assertion that Judge Bowen failed to disclose that both of his parents had been involved in civil litigation against the company and that one of the lawsuits was still pending. Defense attorneys claimed that Judge Bowen’s actions throughout the trial reflected his bias and prejudice against Union Carbide.
The Mississippi Supreme Court agreed to remove Bowen and replaced him with a specially-appointed judge. Judge William Coleman subsequently vacated “the judgment, the underlying jury verdict, and all rulings and orders of the former trial judge.” According to a Union Carbide spokesperson, a retrial is set for April 2012 but the venue has not yet been determined. The company has denied Mr. Brown’s allegations and asserted that it will continue to vigorously defend itself against all asbestos lawsuits.
While it is unclear whether Mr. Brown will once again receive a judgment in his favor, it is certain that his quality of life has been and will continue to be affected by his asbestosis diagnosis. In addition to his physical ailments, he may also be facing financial difficulties in the form of mounting medical bills and lost wages due to an inability to work.
If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with asbestosis or mesothelioma, you need to contact an experienced personal injury attorney to discuss your legal rights. The asbestos attorneys at Nadrich & Cohen LLP are available to assist asbestos and mesothelioma victims nationwide in proving their injury claim.
Call our Injury Hotline today at 1-800-722-0765 to schedule your free initial case evaluation. We are available to investigate claims from patients in all 50 states and there is never a fee unless we recover a judgment on your behalf.