Home   >   Our Official Blog  >  New York Wrongful Death Mesothelioma Verdict Reduced by $4.3 Million

New York Wrongful Death Mesothelioma Verdict Reduced by $4.3 Million

By Shaniqua Williams

Posted on March 07th, 2018

Mr. Lewis Nash underwent asbestos exposure in the school garage he would frequently spend hours submitting work orders or clocking in for his routes at the beginning of the day, surrounded by mechanics who were performing routine maintenance on hazardous products.

On December 19, 2014, several months after filing a wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of her deceased husband, Lewis Nash, who lost his life to mesothelioma as a consequence of occupational asbestos exposure, plaintiff Mary Nash was awarded $7.7 million by the Onondaga County Supreme Court in Syracuse, New York. The sum of money she received following litigation was thought out by the jury as follows:

  • $3 million in compensation for her conscious pain and suffering
  • $3 million for emotional pain and suffering between the onset of her husband's disease and his demise
  • $200,000 in compensation for loss of services and society from the onset of the decedent's disease until his death
  • $1 million for wrongful death from the date of the decease until the verdict
  • $500,000 in compensation for wrongful death from the date of the verdict until the time the decedent would have been expected to live

Mr. Lewis Nash had been a school bus driver in the Fayetteville-Manlius School District for 30 years, between 1957 and 1986, when asbestos was commonly found in automotive components such as brakes, clutches, gaskets, heat seals, as well as numerous other friction products. By virtue of the durability and heat resistance asbestos fibers have, the mineral was considered the perfect ingredient by dozens of industries throughout the last century, from construction to textile. However, asbestos is a known human carcinogen recognized as such by multiple national and international health agencies. As a consequence, approximately 20% of the over 11 million of people who were exposed to it develop a serious disease, which often ends up claiming their lives.

According to his wife, Mr. Lewis Nash underwent asbestos exposure in the school garage he would frequently spend hours submitting work orders or clocking in for his routes at the beginning of the day, surrounded by mechanics who were performing routine maintenance on hazardous products. The company which manufactured the automotive components in question was Navistar, Inc. It was priorly known as International Harvester. Disturbing asbestos-containing products such as brake linings or clutch pads would inevitably release toxic asbestos fibers in the air, which Mr. Lewis Nash would subsequently inhale. Because mesothelioma is the most aggressive disease asbestos exposure can cause, he regrettably died in September 2012, at the age of 81. As the company was found liable for failing to warn consumers against the dangers of asbestos exposure, the decision of the jury was in favor of the plaintiff.

The verdict received by Mrs. Mary Nash was believed to be the largest in the history of Onondaga County. Nevertheless, the defendant - Navistar - appealed the court's decision by challenging the causation opinions of the medical expert who had participated in the trial. Thus, Navistar filed the following post-trial motions, arguing that:

  • the plaintiff failed to provide sufficient evidence of her husband's occupational asbestos exposure
  • the causation opinions of Dr. Abraham, the plaintiff's expert, were inadmissible
  • the company was not responsible for warning bystanders with regard to the potential health consequences of asbestos exposure
  • Mrs. Mary Nash did not present enough proof concerning Navistar's failure to warn her husband in respect to the dangers of asbestos exposure
  • a new trial should take place to correct the errors in evidentiary rulings
  • the court failed to instruct the jury on the issue of apportionment of liability
  • the award should be considerably reduced, as it was based on legal errors

After thoroughly considering the post-trial motions of Navistar and finding validity in certain aspects brought up by the defendant, such as the plaintiff's failure to provide "the cost of a maintenance person, nurse, driver or any other individual to perform the types of services Mr. Nash provided for his wife", the court decided to reduce the sum of money awarded to Mrs. Mary Nash to $3.47 million on November 8, 2017. While the award for wrongful death was cut down from $1.5 million to $270,000 for the previously mentioned reason, the verdict of $6 million for pain and suffering was found excessive after a re-evaluation and thereby reduced as well.

Sources: