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Sunday, July 23, 2006 - Asbestos Plaintiffs Win $10M in Punitives: "Asbestos Plaintiffs Win $10M in Punitives
Pam Smith
The Recorder
July 19, 2006
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A San Francisco jury last week awarded $10 million in punitive damages to a plaintiff who suffered from asbestosis and asbestos pleural disease.
The plaintiffs' $1.6 million in economic and noneconomic damages alone would make the jury's verdict the second-largest asbestosis award reported in California in the last two years to VerdictSearch, a verdict-tracking publication affiliated with The Recorder.
But despite their victory, the fight may not be over for Brayton Purcell or the firm's clients, Joseph and Mary Garza: defendant Asbestos Corp. Limited's location -- in Canada -- may complicate efforts to collect on the judgment.
Steven Harowitz, a plaintiffs lawyer at Harowitz & Tigerman, a San Francisco firm that also handles asbestos cases, said punitive damage awards aren't very common in asbestosis suits. If a jury makes a finding in its initial verdict that exposes a defendant to punitive damages, Harowitz said, many defendants will respond by trying to settle before moving onto the punitive phase of the trial.
Brayton Purcell partner Christopher Andreas, who represented the Garzas, agreed that settling is more typical, but said there had been 'zero' settlement discussion between the trial phases in this case. 'I really don't know what they were thinking,' he said.
Randall Bernard, a lawyer at Wilson Elser Moskowitz Edelman & Dicker in San Francisco who represented the defendant at trial, could not be reached for comment Monday afternoon.
Andreas painted his client, 75-year-old Joseph Garza, as a man who had been exposed to asbestos regularly aboard ships when he served wit"


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