BUFFALO, N.Y., – A New York jury has returned a $1.42 million wrongful death verdict against John Crane Inc. after finding the Chicago-based manufacturer of asbestos gaskets and packing material responsible for exposing a U.S. Navy veteran to asbestos prior to his death from mesothelioma, an incurable asbestos-related cancer.
The family of William R. Voelker was represented locally by John P. Comerford, a partner at Lipsitz, Ponterio & Comerford, LLC, New York’s leading mesothelioma law firm and by lead trial attorney Jay Stuemke of Dallas-based Simon Greenstone Panatier Bartlett, PC.
“John Crane denied that Mr. Voelker’s extensive work with their products, including gaskets and packing material – played any role in causing his disease, and pointed the finger entirely at other companies,” says Mr. Stuemke. “In the end, the jury found that John Crane was negligent and that their products contributed to his disease.”
While both sides agreed that Mr. Voelker had been exposed to asbestos from insulation supplied by third parties, jurors heard evidence that Mr. Voelker had substantial exposure to John Crane gaskets and packing while serving in the Navy from 1967 to 1971. In addition, jurors heard evidence that John Crane had actual knowledge of the dangers of asbestos dating back to the 1940s, but had concealed and covered up those dangers.
Mr. Voelker was healthy and active following his military service before being diagnosed with mesothelioma in 2013. Despite aggressive lung surgery and chemotherapy treatment, the married father of three grown children died on Christmas Day at the age of 65, only four months after his initial diagnosis.
“Bill Voelker was a tremendous man and the center of a very close-knit family,” says Mr. Stuemke. “It is heartbreaking that he did not have more time to spend with his family after his tragic diagnosis.”
The July 23 verdict followed approximately seven hours of deliberations and nine days of trial in the 8th Judicial District for the Supreme Court of the State of New York.