A Louisiana Jury Awards $10.3 Million to Mesothelioma Victim Henry Pete, Court of Appeals Upholds Verdict

In a mesothelioma case that lasted from October to November 2020, former longshoreman Henry Pete was awarded $10.3 million in damages by a Louisiana jury. The plaintiff had been diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma and had been exposed to asbestos directly, as well as through contact with his father’s contaminated work clothing. The jury’s decision was later appealed by one of the defendants who was to pay the sum. Recently, the Louisiana Appeals Court denied the defendant’s petition and upheld the award.

Mr. Pete’s mesothelioma claim had asserted that he had been directly exposed to asbestos during his work as a longshoreman at different wharves and job sites at the port of New Orleans from 1964 to 1968. Additionally, he had been exposed to his father’s asbestos-contaminated work clothes. However, the court found that there was insufficient evidence to support his claim of take-home exposure prior to 1964.

Later in the trial, evidence of the father’s work history was presented, but the court and the plaintiff agreed to limit the claim of take-home exposure to the period from 1964 to 1968. After the jury delivered its verdict, one of the defendants, Ports America, filed an appeal citing insufficient evidence and an egregiously high award.

However, the Court of Appeals of Louisiana, Fourth Circuit, denied the defendant’s motion after reviewing the case history and details. They noted that the defendant had not objected to the reduction of exposure time presented earlier and had not objected to the jury instructions, which they blamed for their loss at trial. The court also upheld the jury’s decision, stating that they had the right to assign damages as long as they did not shock the conscience, and that this award did not do so.

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