News & Events

Chicago, November 19, 2008

Byrne Successfully Defends Living Mesothelioma Asbestos Case in Cuyahoga County, Ohio

Swanson, Martin & Bell, LLP's Peggy Byrne and Matt O’Connell and Doug Simek of Sutter, O’Connell & Farchione in Cleveland recently represented Chrysler LLC in the successful defense of a living mesothelioma asbestos case in Cuyahoga County, Ohio. Ford and GM were co-defendants at the time of trial and were represented by Susan S. Box, Elizabeth Nocera Davis, and Brad Rimmel of Roetzel & Andress in Akron.

After a two week trial, the jury deliberated 27 minutes before rendering a unanimous verdict in favor of Chrysler LLC, Ford and GM. Plaintiffs, James and Kathy Bier, were represented by Masters & Sivinski in Independence, Ohio. James Bier and his spouse, Kathy Bier, are both 48 years old. They have four children between the ages of 13 and 20. Mr. Bier claimed that exposure to asbestos from automotive repair work, particularly 350 to 700 brake jobs that he performed as a “shadetree mechanic” between 1972 and the 1990s, caused his malignant pleural mesothelioma. Mr. Bier was diagnosed with mesothelioma in 2005 and underwent an extrapleural pneumonectomy performed by Dr. David Sugarbaker that same year. He had a $2 million lost wage claim.

The defense argued that Mr. Bier’s alleged exposure to asbestos from automotive repair work did not cause or contribute in any way to his disease. Evidence was presented to show that plaintiff’s father, Robert Bier, worked as a union insulator from 1950 through the 1980s and had his own lawsuit for asbestosis in 1980. Robert Bier brought dust home on his work clothes which exposed family members to asbestos fibers transported home from his jobsites, and plaintiff James Bier was exposed to asbestos for 20 years while he resided in the family home. In addition, plaintiff James Bier joined the insulators’ union in 1979 and continued to work as an insulator until the time of his diagnosis with mesothelioma in 2005. The defense argued that plaintiff’s “take home” exposure to asbestos, as well as his own direct occupational exposure to asbestos from thermal insulation products, was the cause of his mesothelioma. The defense called the following experts: Mary Beth Beasley, M.D.; Richard Garrison, Ph.D.; and Herman Gibb, Ph.D.

Plaintiff’s counsel asked the jury to award $16 million during closing arguments.

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