A couple in Oregon was awarded $5.4 million earlier this week in a case against the U.S. Navy and John Crane Inc. This is the second large amount the gasket and packing material company was ordered to pay within the last two weeks.
Both plaintiffs in the cases against Crane were sickened with mesothelioma due to exposure to the company’s products, the courts decided.
This latest case involved Robert Sprague, age 75, who is currently suffering from the asbestos-caused cancer. Sprague was likely exposed to asbestos-containing insulation while serving in the Navy from 1960 to 1964 and then exposed to the Crane-manufactured products while working as a pipefitter in both Oregon and Massachusetts from 1965 to 1987.
Sprague was diagnosed with the disease in 2015 and doctors claim that he has about 6 months to a year-and-a-half to live. His prognosis is typical of malignant mesothelioma patients, who often die within a year of diagnosis.
An article in the Oregonian notes that the couple, who’ve been married for decades, will likely wind up with only about $1.4 million because an Oregon law allows the state to grab 70 percent of any punitive damages awarded.
In addition, because the U.S. Navy was found to be partially responsible for Sprague’s exposure but is immune from having to pay, the couple will never see that portion of the money.
The verdict specified that John Crane Inc. must pay $3 million in punitive damages. Under Oregon law, the Spragues will get 30 percent of that, or about $1 million.
“Jurors also determined that the Spragues were due $813,000 in economic damages and $1.63 million in non-economic damages for pain and suffering,” noted the Oregonian article. “For those damages, the jury said the Navy was 65 percent at fault; John Crane Inc. was 20 percent at fault; another company that settled before trial was 10 percent at fault; and Robert Sprague was 5 percent at fault for not wearing a respirator on the job at times when one was available.”
That leaves just $1.4 million for which Crane will be responsible, though it’s possible that Oregon laws may prompt the judge to reduce that amount as well.
That’s a travesty, considering how the Spragues have suffered at the hands of a company who knew that asbestos was dangerous as early as the 1930s but did no testing on its products until the 1980s.
As a result, scores of individuals who were exposed to Crane products throughout the 60s and 70s are now being diagnosed with mesothelioma, which can take decades to develop and is often at Stage 3 or 4 when diagnosed, resulting in a short life span for the victim.