The Bergman Draper Oslund team settled a significant court case recently against an asbestos contractor that tried to avoid liability by destroying its business records.
The Berkshire case
Bergman Draper Oslund represented Richard and Barbara Berkshire. A year ago, Mr. Berkshire was diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma. He was exposed to asbestos on the job resulting in his terminal diagnosis. Berkshire served in the US Navy where he was assigned to the USS Guadalupe in San Pedro, California in the late 1960s.
Mr. Berkshire worked on an overhaul project onboard the Guadalupe, a replenishment oiler ship. Alongside other servicemen, he worked in the engine room while civilian contractors, employed by Syd Carpenter Marine, tore out and replaced the asbestos insulation. Mr. Berkshire was tasked with cleaning up insulation and other construction materials during the project.
No asbestos warnings
Syd Carpenter removed and installed asbestos-containing insulation. The contractor admitted they never warned workers about the dangers of asbestos. They also didn’t follow safety regulations to prevent inhalation of asbestos fibers. Syd Carpenter Marine should have minimized exposure via proper ventilation, wet down methods, and isolation of asbestos dust.
Not only did the company fail to protect the health of workers, it intentionally destroyed all records related to its asbestos insulation business. After dozens of asbestos-related lawsuits were filed against it, in 2002 Syd Carpenter Marine destroyed all its records from the 1940s forward that related to asbestos related-projects.
The ruling against Syd Carpenter Marine
The Bergman Draper Oslund team won a two-pronged victory against Syd Carpenter Marine. First, our team successfully argued that the contractor willfully and intentionally destroyed evidence relevant to the Berkshire case (and others) in bad faith. The court agreed, and Judge Maureen McKee ordered that the jury would be instructed to assume the destroyed documents would have benefited Mr. Berkshire’s case. Following the judge’s ruling and two weeks of trial, Syd Carpenter increased its settlement offer more than two and a half times its final pre-trial offer and the case ultimately settled.
Bergman Draper Oslund is dedicated to protecting the rights of those impacted by mesothelioma due to asbestos exposure. Their work holds those accountable that exposed hard-working Americans to asbestos then tried to shift blame and cover their tracks.
If you or a loved one were diagnosed with mesothelioma, contact Bergman Draper Oslund for a free case evaluation today. We’ve won more than $700 million for asbestos victims with mesothelioma and are ready to listen and help you. Please call us now at 206-207-1794.