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Alameda County Jury Awards Over $1.9 Million to An 85 Year-Old Mesothelioma Victim

In 2009, an Alameda County Jury Awarded a total of $1,952,800, to an 85 year-old former contractor who was diagnosed with mesothelioma as a result of his exposure to asbestos-containing products while working as a contractor in California and Hawaii. The Plaintiff in the case was Robert Kirchmann, a current resident of Washington state who had owned his own construction company, Skaggs & Kirchmann, during the 1950s and 1960s in Marin County, CA. The Jury awarded Mr. Kirchmann $102,800, in economic damages related to his past and future medical expenses, and his loss of household services. In addition, the jury awarded him $1,850,000 in non-economic damages, including his physical pain and mental suffering.

At trial, Mr. Kirchmann was represented by William Levin and Timothy Pearce now of Levin Simes, LLP.

Prior to trial, Mr. Kirchmann was able to successfully resolve his case against numerous defendants. However, one defendant, a hardware store who had supplied most of the asbestos-containing products that Mr. Kirchmann used while at Skaggs & Kirchmann, refused to settle for a fair amount. As such, a decision was made by Mr. Kirchmann and his attorneys to go to trial against this defendant to hold it accountable for its fair share of the liability.

At trial, evidence was put on that Mr. Kirchmann purchased various asbestos-containing products from the defendant including drywall products, transite flue pipe, asbestos roofing materials and vinyl asbestos tiles. Mr. Kirchmann further testified that he worked with these products on a regular basis while building homes in Marin County. The jury further heard evidence through Plaintiff’s experts including pathologist Samuel Hammar, M.D., and pulmonologist Barry Horn, M.D., that exposure to the asbestos-containing products supplied by the defendant contributed to Mr. Kirchmann’s development of mesothelioma.

Defendant denied that the products it supplied caused Mr. Kirchmann’s mesothelioma, and rather contended that his mesothelioma was caused solely by his work as a forklift driver at a shipyard during WWII and through alleged exposures as a Merchant Seaman.

Verdict

On December 14, 2009, the jury returned its verdict finding Defendant liable on a theory of products liability. The jury found the Defendant supply house to be 40% responsible in causing Mr. Kirchmann’s mesothelioma. On January 27, 2010, the Hon. Richard O. Keller, of the Alameda County Superior Court, entered a Judgment On Jury Verdict in the amount of $1,952,800, plus costs, before setoffs against this Defendant.