William Aubin was diagnosed with malignant peritoneal mesothelioma after having worked as a construction supervisor for his father’s company in the early 1970s. He filed suit against multiple companies, but at trial only Union Carbide remained as a defendant. The jury found the company liable and awarded him $6.6 million. When Union Carbide appealed the decision on several grounds, an appeals court reversed the lower court’s decision, but the Florida Supreme Court reinstated the jury’s judgment, rejecting each of the arguments that the company had made against the trial’s management.
According to testimony presented at trial, Mr. Aubin’s work on construction sites in Sarasota, Florida exposed him to the dust that was created from sanding and sweeping drywall joint compounds which were made with asbestos. He had been unaware of the dangers of the carcinogenic material. His lawsuit accused Union Carbide of strict liability design defect, strict liability failure to warn, and negligent failure to warn.
The jury in the mesothelioma trial heard that Union Carbide’s asbestos was 99.9% pure in comparison to competitors’ asbestos, and that Union Carbide had been aware of the dangers of its product as early as 1964. The victim’s attorney also provided testimony regarding his exposure and its role in his illness. Though Union Carbide argued that chrysotile asbestos was not likely to cause mesothelioma and asked for a directed verdict, the trial court rejected this request, as well as others about jury instructions. The jury found the company negligent and returned a $14,191,000 verdict for Aubin, but reduced the judgment to $6.6 million to reflect other companies’ liabilities.
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