After a trial lasting several days in a Rochester courtroom in the case of a former employee of Eastman Kodak suffering from mesothelioma, the jury came back with a verdict in the amount of $8 million for Wayne Meissner and his wife Jill. The trial was presided over by State Supreme Court Justice John J. Ark. The plaintiff is represented by attorneys John P. Comerford and Mathew J. Morton of the law firm of Lipsitz, Ponterio & Comerford with offices in Buffalo and Rochester. Mr. Meissner was diagnosed with mesothelioma in July 2018, although his symptoms began several months before.
Mesothelioma is a rare and incurable form of cancer caused by exposure to asbestos. Wayne Meissner is a lifetime non-smoker, although smoking has no connection to the development of mesothelioma.
Wayne Meissner was occupationally exposed to asbestos over a period of several years beginning in the late 1960s. He experienced a particularly intense period of exposure while working at Kodak Park as a civil engineer. In 1970 he monitored and inspected a job involving the spray application of asbestos performed by Ridge Construction, a subsidiary of Eastman Kodak. Ridge failed to take steps to warn Mr. Meissner of the risks of exposure to asbestos and also failed to protect him from exposure to the deadly mineral fiber.
Wayne Meissner also served two tours of duty in Vietnam with the United States Naval Reserves, but was not exposed to asbestos during that time.
The jury awarded the Meissner family a total of $8 million for past and future pain and suffering and loss of services. Eighty percent of the award was attributed to the wrongdoing of Ridge and 20% to other responsible parties. The jury also found that the conduct of Ridge was reckless.
Unfortunately, even after that jury award, the excess insurance carriers for Ridge Construction, Certain Underwriters at Lloyd’s, London, disclaimed coverage, leaving the jury verdict unpaid. In July of 2022, John Comerford and Anne Joynt obtained a Judgment for Mr. Meissner and his wife after a bench trial in the amount of almost $5 million against Lloyd’s. In the Insurance Law 3420 action that plaintiffs brought, the Judge ultimately found that Lloyd’s was responsible to honor the jury verdict, and could not avail themselves of any arguments of late notice to the insurance carrier, policy exhaustion, whether or not Mr. Meissner suffered an “injury in fact” during the policies at issue, and whether the injury suffered by Mr. Meissner was expected or intended by Ridge Construction. To view the Supreme Court’s July 2022 decision, click here: Meissner v. Ridge Constr._ Inc._ 2022 N.Y. Misc. LEXIS 3106
Wayne Meissner is 73 years old. He and his wife have been married for forty-eight years. They have four adult children.
“Today a jury in Monroe County said, ‘No More!’ to the careless behavior of the asbestos industry. Wayne Meissner, who enlisted in the Navy where he selflessly served his country, valiantly fought for his rights in the courtroom in Rochester, New York, and he won,“ said attorney John P. Comerford after the verdict was delivered.
This case was filed in New York State Supreme Court for Monroe County, Index No: E2018007953.