A former shipyard worker received a $4.39 million jury verdict last month from an Illinois maker of asbestos-related parts that he contended gave him a terminal form of cancer. John O. Koonce, 59, a former worker at Norfolk Shipbuilding and Drydock Corp., was awarded $4 million in compensatory damages and $390,000 in medical expenses from John Crane Inc., a Morton Grove, Illinois-based company. The verdict came after a two-and-a-half week jury trial and a day of deliberations. Koonce, a resident of Norfolk, who was diagnosed with mesothelioma in 2006, worked with John Crane gaskets, packing material and other asbestos parts between 1967 and 1971 while repairing ships at the Norfolk dockyard. Koonce then went off to other jobs, including working for many years in operations at The Virginian-Pilot.
Since being diagnosed, Koonce had a lung removed, and suffers severe fatigue. He can’t travel or help his neighbors as he once could. His cancer is in remission, but doctors say he is likely to die a painful death from the disease. Another company that Koonce sued, Garlock Sealing Technologies, settled its portion of the case out of court. The jurors had the chance to reduce the verdict against John Crane by what Garlock would have had to pay had that case gone forward. But it decided not to do so. The suit claimed John Crane knew or should have known that breathing asbestos fibers was dangerous, and was negligent in failing to test its products and warn workers. Bobby Hatten, who is with the firm of Patten, Wornom, Hatten & Diamonstein located in Newport News, Virginia, represented the Plaintiff.
Source: Daily Press
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