Worker Suffered from Asbestosis

New Trial Secured for Client

SAN FRANCISCO, CA — July 11, 2000 — In a unanimous decision, the First Appellate District, Division One, reversed a trial court’s order and granted 72–year old Charles Munoz, a retired pipefitter suffering from asbestosis and other disabling asbestos-related health problems, a new trial against defendant Western Water Works Supply Co, Inc. (“WWWS.”)

In its July 11, 2000, unpublished opinion, the California appeals court affirmed that a new trial was warranted and reversed trial Judge Ina Gyemant’s ruling of judgment notwithstanding the verdict (“JNOV.”) Made at the request of WWWS, Gyemant’s prior ruling had taken away a $594,825 verdict won in favor of Mr. Munoz by Brayton Purcell LLP attorneys.

Attorney Gilbert Purcell, a partner in the firm Brayton Purcell LLP, argued the successful appeal for Mr. Munoz. Mr. Purcell noted, “We are certainly pleased that the Court of Appeal agreed that Judge Gyemant’s JNOV and new trial order was not reflective of the case evidence in favor of Mr. Munoz. We look forward to the new trial now that this is over and expect to soon get a substantial remedy for Mr. Munoz.”

At the time of the first trial, Mr. Munoz was severely disabled by asbestosis and other asbestos-related health problems and faced a shortened life expectancy as a result. He had worked in construction from his teen years until his retirement in the late 1980s. As a youth, he worked as a laborer and pipefitter, joining the pipefitter’s union. In the late 1960s, he became a heavy equipment operator, working for Frank Brown Construction Company laying water pipe as a member of the operating engineers union.

Testimony at the first trial established that nearly ninety (90) percent of the jobs for Frank Brown involved asbestos-containing cement pipe, supplied by the defendant, WWWS. Asbestos-containing cement pipe is still widely used for fire hydrants, water connections to homes, and municipal water systems.

While a laborer, Mr. Munoz would lay the pipe into ditches, cutting the pipe with a handheld saw and then milling the ends with a milling machine. As a heavy machine operator, Mr. Munoz continued to cut and mill pipe during his work. Mr. Brown, president of the Frank Brown Construction Company called Mr. Munoz an “all-around worker.” Experts testified that the process of cutting asbestos-containing pipe results in significant asbestos–exposure for the worker cutting the pipe, a finding that was noted by the appeals court in its ruling.

Brayton Purcell LLP is the most active trial firm on the West Coast. Our attorneys are in court every day working for clients. We strongly believe that a solid history of trial victories and experiences helps to provide the best representation for victims of asbestos and other injuries.