By Patricia L. Harman
Verdict: Plaintiff, $32.8 million
Venue: Los Angeles County,
Plaintiffs: Becky Tyler (60),
Louis William Tyler (62)
Defendants: Pfizer Inc., Indasco Inc.,
CBS Corporation, Cabot Corporation,
Foster Wheeler LLC, General Electric
Company, Los Angeles Rubber Company,
American Optical Corporation,
Metropolitan Life Insurance Company
William Tyler worked as a machinist at Foundry Service & Supplies, a machine shop located
in Torrance, Calif., from 1972 to 1992.
During that time he was provided with an
R2090 respirator that was manufactured
by American Optical Corp., to protect
him from asbestos dust while at work. In
2015, he was diagnosed with peritoneal
mesothelioma as a result of exposure
to asbestos fibers. The cancer occurs
in the lining of the abdomen, and in
Tyler’s case was treated with six rounds
of systemic chemotherapy and surgery
that required filling his abdominal cavity
with chemotherapy drugs that had been
heated prior to insertion in his abdomen.
Tyler claimed that the respirator he
used was defective and inadequate to pro-
tect against asbestos and filed suit against
American Optical Corp., Cabot Corp.,
CBS Corp., Foster Wheeler, General
Electric, Indasco, Los Angeles Rubber,
Pfizer and Metropolitan Life Insurance
Company. Several of the defendants were
dismissed from the case or settled with
the plaintiffs, so only American Optical
and Los Angeles Rubber proceeded to
trial. Before any evidence was presented,
Los Angeles Rubber resolved the claims
against it, so the trial continued solely
with American Optical Corp.
Tyler sought to recover economic damages in the amount of $1.8 million, as well
as damages for his past pain and suffering.
His wife, Becky Tyler, sued for her loss of
consortium and both parties sought recovery of punitive damages as well.
The Tylers’ counsel said he had relied
on the work-provided respirator to protect him from inhaling asbestos fibers, but
it had not done so due to an improper fit.
Counsel claimed American Optical Corp.
was aware that the respirators would not
protect users, but continued to sell the
defective respirators anyway. Labeling on
the package also failed to warn end-users
of any dangers in using the respirators in
this manner. Tyler believed the insufficient protection from the defective respirator contributed substantially to the mesothelioma he subsequently developed.
The defense countered that the R2090N
was never designed or sold to protect us-
ers against asbestos and any customers
should have been aware of this fact based
on existing information. They also ar-
gued that it was Tyler’s work at Foundry
Service & Supplies that caused him to be
exposed to the asbestos fibers, especially
since in the early 1970s the shop used dis-
posable face masks manufactured by 3M
Co. The defense said 3M should be held to
the same level of accountability even
though they were not named in the
suit. Since Foundry did not provide
protective clothing and Tyler had his
respirator on improperly, the defense
said Tyler had periods of asbestos ex-
posure where he was unprotected.
Additional arguments were made
that Tyler may not have even worn
an American Optical respirator and
if he did, then 3M, Foundry and the
manufacturer of the asbestos prod-
ucts should also be party to the suit
since all were wholly responsible.
They also countered that it was Foundry’s
responsibility to provide a safe work envi-
ronment for employees. However, neither
Foundry nor 3M were named as defen-
dants in this matter.
The jury verdict came back in favor of
the plaintiffs, who were awarded $32.8
• Becky Tyler — $6 million, personal
injury for loss of consortium and $3
million personal injury for past loss of
jury for past pain and suffering; $8 million in personal injury for future pain
and suffering; $1.8 million for personal
injury/economic damages; and $10
million in punitive damages.
Multiple parties shared liability with
the jury determining that American Optical was 70 percent liable for Tyler’s injuries; Foundry Service & Supplies was
20 percent liable even though they were
not a party to the suit; 3M was five percent liable even though they were a nonparty to the suit; and Tyler himself was
responsible for five percent of the liability. Since the jury found against American Optical for all of the intentional tort
claims, they were also responsible for the
total verdict amount.
A LOOK AT SOME OF THE LEGAL DECISIONS IMPACTING INSURANCE ACROSS THE COUNTRY
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