Seventh asbestos company is found negligent, liable

July 15, 1992|By Jay Apperson | Jay Apperson,Staff Writer

The jury in the nation's largest asbestos trial found a seventh company negligent and liable yesterday for failing to warn workers about the potential health hazards posed by exposure to asbestos.

On Monday, the jury ruled against all six firms named as defendants in the consolidated personal injury case.

Yesterday, the jury ruled that Owens-Illinois Inc. was liable in a "cross claim" filed by three of the six defendants. Owens-Illinois had previously made out-of-court settlements with the 8,550 plaintiffs and was not a defendant in the trial.

The decision allows the three firms to seek compensation from Owens-Illinois for damages that may be assessed against them.

A second company named in a cross claim, W. R. Grace & Co., was found by the jury to be neither negligent nor liable.

George C. Doub, an attorney representing W. R. Grace, said, "The thing that's particularly pleasing about the decision was that it shows the jury was able to make distinctions between the corporations and didn't treat all the corporations the same. W. R. Grace is a responsible company."

Mr. Doub said the company reached a settlement with the plaintiffs about a month after the trial began in March.

The terms of that agreement, like those of others in the case, has not been made public.

After reaching its verdict yesterday, the jurors were excused until tomorrow afternoon, when presiding Judge Marshall A. Levin is to instruct them on the law regarding complaints filed by six "trial plaintiffs" whose specific claims were presented during the trial.

Closing arguments in this phase of the trial are also expected to begin tomorrow.

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