Trial Verdict for Widow of Mesothelioma Victim

Widow Awarded Nearly $1 Million; Husband’s Mesothelioma Caused by Exposure to Asbestos–Containing Tile Products

SAN FRANCISCO — December 18, 1998 — A San Francisco jury awarded $995,432.15 to a widow of a flooring mechanic who died of malignant pleural mesothelioma due to his occupational exposure to asbestos. The plaintiff was Therese Petrini, San Francisco, California. The defendant was Mohasco Corporation, the Successor–in–Interest to William J. Volker Company, San Francisco, California, a distributor of asbestos-containing floor tile and sheet vinyl products.

The trial began on October 7, 1998, before San Francisco Superior Court Judge Thomas J. Mellon, Jr., as part of a consolidated group of 51 wrongful death/mesothelioma cases. The San Francisco court has a policy of consolidating similar asbestos-related lawsuits for trial in order to reduce court congestion. A jury was impaneled to hear the case and told that the trial would last approximately three to four months. Prior to Opening Statements, many of the cases were settled. During the Petrini trial, the parties presented medical, epidemiologic, and industrial hygiene testimony, as well as evidence regarding the decedent John Petrini’s occupational exposure to asbestos. The cause of death was not disputed.

Decedent John Petrini had an extensive work history involving asbestos exposure over many decades. Mr. Petrini, a Bay Area native, worked briefly during World War II at the Bethlehem Steel Shipyard in San Francisco, California as an apprentice machinist where he was exposed intermittently to asbestos-containing insulation products. Mr. Petrini’s primary exposure to asbestos stemmed from his lengthy career as a flooring mechanic commencing in 1951. Evidence was presented that William J. Volker Company was the primary supplier of asbestos-containing vinyl floor tile and sheet vinyl products to Mr. Petrini’s employer, Armstrong Carpet & Linoleum located on Clement Street in San Francisco during the late 1950s and early 1960s. Mr. Petrini ultimately purchased the business in 1969 and operated it until 1992 when he was diagnosed with malignant pleural mesothelioma.

The jury found that Mohasco Corporation (William J. Volker Company) distributed asbestos products which were defective and that decedent John Petrini’s mesothelioma was causally related to his exposure to said products. The jury further found that Therese Petrini had suffered a loss of financial support as well as the love, companionship, and moral support of her husband as a result of his premature death due to his exposure to the defendant’s defective products.

Plaintiff Therese Petrini was represented by a California mesothelioma attorney from Brayton Purcell’s Novato office.