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Boiler Manufacturer Loses After Trying to Argue Against Punitive Damages

Posted by Michael Throneberry | Jan 30, 2023

Asbestos Company loses after trying to argue against punitive damages.  After developing mesothelioma due to asbestos exposure, a patient can file a compensation claim. In a mesothelioma compensation claim, a plaintiff can recover punitive and compensatory damages. Compensatory damages include non-economic and economic damages. Non-economic damages recoverable in a mesothelioma claim include pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, and emotional distress.  Punitive damages are non-compensatory damages. Economic damages recoverable in a mesothelioma claim include lost wages, medical expenses, caregiver costs, personal care expenses, and the cost of domestic services. These damages are awarded to punish a defendant. Usually, punitive damages make up a huge part of a settlement award, and because asbestos companies know this, they often try to avoid being held responsible for punitive damages.

In a recent New York mesothelioma case, the defendant tried to avoid being held liable for punitive damages by attempting to evade questioning.  The judge ordered the defendant to comply with the plaintiff's request for testimony. The mesothelioma victim in this case, who for purposes of this article will be referred to as E.M., filed a lawsuit against several asbestos companies. The victim maintained boilers for thirty years, and one of the companies in his lawsuit was Burnham Corporation, a boiler manufacturer. When the plaintiff's attorneys asked the company questions in an attempt to assess its liability for punitive damages, the company gave inadequate responses. The Special Mater hearings concluded that the answers were insufficient and instructed the defendant to appear for deposition. Burnham disagreed with this decision and appealed.

In an attempt to avoid paying punitive damages to the mesothelioma victim, Burnham Corporation appealed the decision that they should appear for a deposition on procedural grounds. The defendant argued that New York law prohibits discovery of such damages from being conducted before the defendant has been found liable for the victim's injuries. According to the court, that may be true in other cases but not in a mesothelioma case. The court found that Burnham misunderstood the law. According to the court, New York law treats mesothelioma cases differently from other personal injury cases. New York law recognizes the unique needs of mesothelioma cases and victims. Because of this, the court determined that the deposition was correctly ordered. The court concluded that Burnham Corporation must appear for deposition.

When is an Asbestos Company Responsible for Punitive Damages?

Punitive damages are not awarded in all mesothelioma cases. For punitive damages to be awarded, an attorney must present evidence that shows the defendant intentionally disregarded the known risk of asbestos and endangered the safety of others. There must be evidence that shows the defendant knew the people might get exposed to asbestos fibers but did nothing to protect them from exposure.

Arizona Mesothelioma Lawyers

If you or a loved one were diagnosed with mesothelioma, contact our office to speak to one of our experienced Arizona mesothelioma attorneys about your situation. Our office can help investigate your case and determine if compensation can be sought from negligent parties to help you and your family live a more comfortable life.

About the Author

Michael Throneberry

Attorney Michael Throneberry graduated from Purdue University with a Civil Engineering degree. He then served with the United States Army...

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