We first reported on this secondhand exposure lawsuit here. In February 2008, a New Jersey jury awarded $30.3 million to the family of Mark Buttitta, who died from mesothelioma. The Buttitta family argued that he was exposed to asbestos while working summers at an auto parts warehouse and at home from asbestos fibers that clung to his father’s and brothers’ work clothes. On April 5, 2010, the Superior Court of New Jersey Appellate Division affirmed the jury's award. The decision can be obtained here.
The Appellate Division found that plaintiff presented sufficient evidence to establish that Buttitta regularly worked in close proximity to asbestos containing parts to permit the issue of causation to go to the jury. The Court found no merit in defendants' arguments that plaintiff's expert opinions were "novel and unsupported." On defendants' motion concerning remittitur of the damages awarded for loss of parental and spousal services as excessive, the Court deferred to the trial court judge in finding that while the award was in excess of plaintiff's expert calculations, the jury was entitled to find the expert was conservative in his calculations. Similarly, the Court dismissed arguments concerning jurisdiction, discovery disputes, and rulings as to summary judgment.
This decision follows a Tennessee secondhand asbestos lawsuit that we reported on here, which settled for an undisclosed amount in September 2009 following a decision in plaintiff's favor on a motion for summary judgment. These cases clearly lend support to the belief that secondhand exposure cases will represent the "second wave" of asbestos litigation as family members of those that worked in close proximity to asbestos develop asbestos-related diseases.