Virginia Supreme Court Decision Reversing $17.5 Million Asbestos Verdict Still Stands

By Peter DePaolis

On June 10, the US Supreme Court declined to accept the appeal of a case dealing with the duty of ship owners to intervene in protecting the safety of shipyard workers. The court’s decision means that a previous decision by the Virginia Supreme Court that vacated a $17.5 million verdict against ExxonMobil Corp. will stand.

The case began when plaintiff, a former commercial vessels repair supervisor at one of Exxon’s shipyards, filed suit against Exxon under the federal Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act. In his suit, plaintiff alleged that Exxon, whose ships contained asbestos, was negligent in allowing him and other workers to be exposed to asbestos found on Exxon’s ships. Following a trial, the jury awarded the plaintiff $12 million in compensatory damages, $12.5 million in punitive damages, and medical expenses of $430,964.

Exxon appealed the trial decision to the Virginia Supreme Court. In its decision, the Virginia Supreme Court held that there was sufficient evidence to conclude that Exxon bore responsibility for the plaintiff’s asbestos exposure.

The Dangers of Asbestos Exposure at Work

Shipbuilders have a high risk of developing cancer due to asbestos exposure. This risk is higher for those who worked in shipyards between World War II and the Korean War due to work areas being so poorly ventilated that asbestos dust would build up and expose shipbuilders to large quantities of asbestos.

If you or a loved one has been exposed to asbestos, contact our firm today at (202) 659-5500, or visit our website to fill out our online form. Our lawyers are here to help you in your time of need.

Koonz’s Safety Tip: Employees who work in an environment where exposure to asbestos is a constant threat should always wear safety equipment, such as a mask with a HEPA filter.

Koonz, McKenney, Johnson & DePaolis L.L.P.

Maryland, Washington, D.C., and Virginia Injury Attorneys

About the Author
Peter DePaolis joined the firm in 1980 and has since represented a large number of individuals involved in automobile collisions, truck accidents, bus crashes, defective products, and medical malpractice cases. A significant portion of Mr. DePaolis’ practice is devoted to working on behalf of people suffering from asbestosis, mesothelioma, and other asbestos-related cancers. He has led his firm’s fight against the asbestos industry and has recovered over $30 million in damages for asbestos victims and their families.