Ruling Reversed in Pep Boys Asbestos Case, Plaintiffs’ Appeal Had ‘Merit’
A California appellate court has reversed part of a ruling in the highly publicized Pep Boys asbestos case involving a mesothelioma victim, his wife, and their seven adult children. The victim, a “do-it-yourselfer,” specialized in brake repair and replacement, working on cars on his own and with the help of his three sons. Per the ruling, while the plaintiff shopped for auto parts at several different shops, Pep Boys “was his favorite.”
During the 1960s through the mid-1980s, the store sold asbestos-containing brakes. During this time, the plaintiff purchased Bendix, EIS, and Raybestos brand brakes to install during nearly 30 brake jobs with the help of his sons. “This involved helping their father remove old brake materials as well as refreshing brakes which didn’t require replacement. All these activities involved brushing brake dust from auto wheel drums, grinding or sanding brake shoes, handling ‘core’ (old) brake parts and sweeping up brake dust.”
“Any one of these activities alone and certainly all of them taken together resulted in multiple exposures to friable asbestos from auto brake parts. In the course of these activities (the plaintiff) inhaled asbestos fibers on many occasions.” Although there was evidence that, “several sources of exposure to friable asbestos all constituted significant factors increasing the victims’ risk of contracting mesothelioma,” the trial court “specifically found that among those sources of exposure were Pep Boys’ brake products.” These products contained asbestos that exposed the (plaintiff) to friable asbestos fibers, which he inhaled and which were a substantial factor which increased his risk of contracting mesothelioma.”
As a result, the plaintiff developed malignant mesothelioma. He was diagnosed in April 2010 and died just three months later on July 14, 2010, at the age of 75.
In the original lawsuit, the plaintiffs were awarded $213,052 as economic damages, including the value of the victim’s employment and Social Security pensions from the date of his retirement through his natural lifespan. However, the amount was offset by good-faith settlements the plaintiffs had entered into prior to trial with other parties, which totaled $721,500. The plaintiffs appealed, claiming the trial court erred in five respects. The third and fifth were of special interest to the court.
On the third ground, the plaintiffs claimed that the trial court erred in failing to award damages for the costs of providing home health services to their father and his wife. On the fifth, the plaintiffs claimed that the trial court erred in awarding expert fees to Pep Boys under section 998.
In the 50-page ruling, the court found "merit" in the third and fifth grounds, reversing the judgement, in part, remanding to the trial court for further proceedings. With this ruling, the victim’s family can now seek compensation for medical expenses.
If you have been exposed to asbestos, see your doctor right away. Although there is no cure for mesothelioma, early detection could lead to better treatment options and outcomes.
Court of Appeals of the State of California, First Appellate District, Division Four, (San Francisco County Super. Ct. No. CGC 11275749), Case Number A146060. 23 Aug. 2018. Web 15 Sep. 2018.