For purposes of this article, the victim, in this case, will be referred to as D.M., and his spouse will be referred to as L.M.
Recently, the Oregon court of appeals denied a petition filed by Kaiser Gypsum appealing a decision made in 2020. In 2020, Kaiser Gypsum was ordered to pay over $6 million to D.M., a mesothelioma patient, and L.M., his wife. The jury's decision came after it was determined that Kaiser Gypsum engaged in reckless acts between 1966 and 1969, resulting in D.M. being exposed to asbestos, thus developing mesothelioma. Afterward, the jury reduced the award to $5.2 million, and Kaiser Gypsum appealed that award. It is this petition that was recently denied.
Originally, D.M. and L.M. had sued several companies they blamed for the asbestos exposure. The original lawsuit stated that several asbestos-containing products were responsible for D.M.'s asbestos exposure. Apart from the lawsuit against Kaiser, all the other lawsuits that D.M. and L.M. filed were either settled or thrown out. In the claim against Kaiser Gypsum, D.M. and L.M. referenced the company's joint compound asbestos-contaminated product that D.M. worked with in the 1960s.
After the jury heard the case, it decided to favor the victim and his wife on, among others, negligence claims. After this ruling, the defendant in the case appealed. In the appeal, the defendant identified three parts where they believed mistakes had occurred, including the details the jury had been given about the word “recklessness” and when exactly the plaintiff had been exposed to asbestos. Kaiser Gypsum argued that there was not enough evidence to prove recklessness. The company argued that the trial court should have made a decision that favored them. Kaiser Gypsum argued that the act that caused D.M.'s illness happened in 2018 and not in the 1960s.
The Appeals Court reviewed the appeal and found it flawed. The Appeals Court stated that the first court did not make any mistake in its instruction regarding recklessness. According to the Court of Appeals, the instruction distinguished clearly between deliberate misconduct and recklessness. According to the Appeals Court, the trial court's instruction to the trial court's jury was an accurate rendering of the rule of law. Regarding the appeal that focused on whether D.M. was exposed to asbestos between 1966 and 1969, the Appeals Court noted that whether or not D.M. was exposed to asbestos during this time would not affect the defendant's liability in any way. Even if the victim got exposed to asbestos in 2018, Kaiser Gypsum would still be liable for his mesothelioma.
After the Court of Appeals' ruling, the verdict stands, and D.M. and L.M. will be paid the money they are owed, which is $5.2 million.
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