Brake Manufacturer Failed to Warn of Known Asbestos Danger

For James Phillips’ entire life, he worked with cars, beginning in the late 1960s when he worked on and off at several garages for two-three years in Mariposa, California. Phillips also worked on family cars, his friends’ cars, and racecars—which was a hobby for 40 years. Phillips’ work included sanding, installing new brakes, removing old ones, generating substantial asbestos dust, which he was exposed to while he worked on the vehicles, as well as afterward while he swept up the garage.

In addition, Phillips also worked as a plumber for many years and was exposed to other asbestos-containing products during the course of that work.

In 2012, when Phillips was 58-years-old, he was diagnosed with mesothelioma. The following year he died, leaving his wife, five children and 14 grandchildren.

Phillips’s estate and his survivors sued Honeywell International, Inc., whose predecessor, Bendix Corp., manufactured asbestos brake pads and linings.

The plaintiffs alleged that the products were defective because they contained asbestos, which was released when work was performed, and that the company failed to warn him about the dangers associated with its products. The plaintiffs contend that Phillips was exposed to asbestos dust from Bendix brake products and that the exposure substantially contributed to his disease.

The plaintiffs also sued various other manufacturers and suppliers of asbestos-containing products, which Phillips was exposed to, while working on vehicles as well as during his work as a plumber. Those defendants settled or were otherwise dismissed, and the case went to trial against Honeywell.

The plaintiffs sought punitive damages, alleging that Bendix had acted with conscious disregard for the safety of its customers by failing to remove asbestos from its products and failing to adequately warn customers of the known health hazards of asbestos. The plaintiffs asserted that Bendix had knowledge of the health hazards dating back to 1966, but continued using asbestos in its brakes until 2001.

Honeywell argued that the asbestos in its brake products does not cause mesothelioma.

The jury awarded $7.4 million in compensatory damages, allocating fault at 30 percent to Honeywell and the remainder to other brake and product manufacturers. The award included about $6.54 million in non-economic damages and $900,000 in economic damages.

The jury also found that Bendix/Honeywell had acted with conscious disregard for the rights and safety of others, and awarded $3.5 million in punitive damages.

While no dollar amount can ever compensate for the loss of a loved one, a financial award is certainly both deserved and justified when the death was caused by negligence. In a wrongful death case, the personal representative of the estate of a deceased person is authorized to file a lawsuit against those responsible for the person’s death.

If you or a loved one has been injured or killed as a result of negligence, you may be entitled to compensation for your damages. Contact one of our experienced Gacovino Lake attorneys at 1-800-246-HURT (4878) for more information.

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