A $7.5 million verdict was rendered on January 15, 2015, by a Middlesex County jury in the matter of Condon v. Advanced Thermal Hydronics, et al., Docket No.: MID-L-5695-13AS, Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Middlesex County. In this first asbestos case tried before New Jersey’s newly appointed asbestos judge, The Honorable Ana C. Viscomi, only one of the defendants remaining at trial was found liable and the verdict against it was limited to $780,000.
The case involved the asbestos exposure claim of 67-year-old plaintiff William Condon, who suffered from mesothelioma primarily as a result of his work with heating and air conditioning systems, including boilers, over an 11-year period from 1973 to 1984. Three defendants, Wallwork, CertainTeed and Pecora, suppliers of building products, defended the case through the month-long trial to verdict.
Wallwork and CertainTeed obtained defense verdicts. The jury allocated 2 percent liability to Pecora. The remaining 98 percent of the liability was apportioned by the jury to defendants whose claims had been resolved prior to the verdict.
The liability award totaled $6.5 million, $130,000 of which was assessed to Pecora. An additional $1 million punitive damages award was rendered against Pecora in the trial’s punitive damages phase.
The liability award comprised a $5 million award for pain and suffering ($500,000 past and $4.5 million future) and a $1.5 million award to Mrs. Condon for loss of services ($500,000 past and $1 million future). In support of the punitive damages award, the plaintiffs demonstrated that Pecora took no action to eliminate asbestos from its product or to provide Mr. Condon with warnings, despite Pecora’s knowledge of the hazards of asbestos prior to Mr. Condon’s work with its asbestos-containing furnace cement.
Under New Jersey law, the 2 percent allocation to Pecora protects it from joint and several liability. In addition, the $1 million punitive damages award was reduced to $650,000, as New Jersey law does not permit a punitive damage award to exceed the liability award by more than five times.