SYRACUSE, New York, July 10, 2008 – Douglas Pokorney, a resident of Ithaca, NY, who from 1962 through 1965 served as a Navy boilerman aboard the USS Charles H. Roan, is awarded a mesothelioma compensation verdict1 totaling $5 Million: $2.5 Million for past pain and suffering and $2.5 Million for future pain and suffering, which the jury found to continue for a period of one year.

This case is the first-ever mesothelioma lawsuit tried in Syracuse, New York, while the jury award is recognized as the largest mesothelioma compensation verdict in the entire Upstate New York.

Mr. Pokorney is 66 years old and has worked as a professional farrier (horse shoer) from the time he completed his Navy service. Mr. Pokorney has been living with mesothelioma for almost four years.

According to the complaint, plaintiff’s mesothelioma was caused by exposure to asbestos, which occurred during his service aboard the USS Charles H. Roan from 1962 through 1965. Plaintiff claimed that he was exposed to asbestos used in the insulation on boilers, gaskets used on boilers, and other asbestos-containing materials used on and inside the boilers. Plaintiff further claimed that Foster Wheeler was negligent in selling its products without warnings of the hazards of asbestos, and that such negligence was a proximate cause (substantial factor) in causing Mr. Pokorney’s mesothelioma.

Defendant Foster Wheeler did not contest the fact that Mr. Pokorney was diagnosed with mesothelioma, which was caused by asbestos exposure aboard the USS Charles H. Roan. However, Foster Wheeler contended that it had no duty to warn regarding the dangers of asbestos applied to its boilers by third parties. Foster Wheeler further contended that it was not negligent in light of the “state of the art” that existed with respect to the dangers of asbestos up through 1965. Foster Wheeler also contended that its failure to warn was not a proximate cause of Plaintiff’s mesothelioma, and argued that a warning by Foster Wheeler would not have changed anything that occurred with respect to asbestos on the USS Charles H. Roan.

On June 23, 2008, the Court denied Foster Wheeler’s Motion in Limine, in which Foster Wheeler claimed that it had no duty, as a matter of law, to warn about the hazards of asbestos used in its boilers’ insulation.

In a written decision, dated July 2, 2008, the Court denied Foster Wheeler’s Motion in Limine requesting that the Navy be listed on the verdict sheet as a party against whom the jury could apportion fault. The Court determined that the Navy could not be listed on the verdict sheet because of its Sovereign Immunity and because of the applicability of Article 16 of New York CPLR and the New York Worker’s Compensation Law.

On July 8, 2008, the Court denied Foster Wheeler’s request for a jury charge on the Government Contractor Defense.

As per the verdict, the jury apportioned 31% of the fault to Foster Wheeler and distributed the remaining share of the fault to other defendants in the following order (relevant products are provided in parentheses):

  • Foster Wheeler (boilers) – 31%;
  • Garlock (gaskets) – 15%;
  • IMO/Delaval (pumps) – 13%;
  • Crane Co. (valves) – 10%;
  • Leslie Controls (valves) – 10%;
  • Yarway (steam traps) – 7%;
  • Westinghouse (draft blowers) – 7%;
  • Warren Pumps (pumps) – 7%.

The plaintiff was represented by mesothelioma lawyer Jerome H. Block of Levy Konigsberg LLP.

Lead defendant attorneys included John M. Fitpatrick and Erik D. Nadolink of Denver, CO, based Wheeler Trigg Kennedy LLP.

In the course of the trial, plaintiff’s attorneys invited a number of medical and scientific experts, including:

  • Dr. David Ozonoff: state of the art (Boston, Massachusetts);
  • Dr. Jerrold Abraham: occupational pathology (Syracuse, New York);
  • Arnold Moore: naval architecture and marine engineering (Atlanta, Georgia);
  • Dr. Jacqueline Moline: internal and occupational medicine (New York, NY);
  • Dr. Elizabeth Dexter: treating surgeon (Syracuse, New York);
  • Mary Hesdorffer: mesothelioma nurse practitioner (Baltimore, Maryland).

Defendants called Dr. Lawrence Stillwell Betts as expert in industrial hygiene, state of the art, and occupational medicine (Poquoson, Virginia).

For over a quarter of a century, mesothelioma lawyers at Levy Konigsberg LLP have been among the pioneers of asbestos litigation in America. The firm’s attorneys have been recognized as nationwide leaders in representing the rights of mesothelioma victims and their families. Their clients have received some of the largest mesothelioma compensation verdicts in the country.

For more information about this or other mesothelioma lawsuits, please contact Levy Konigsberg LLP at (800) 315-3806.


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