Morvant $6.4 million settlement in Louisiana asbestos case
Case Caption: Mary Morvant v. Asbestos Corporation Limited, et al.
Jurisdiction: Louisiana State Court, Civil District Court for the Parish of Orleans
Case No.: 2012-11900, Div. “J”
Trial Judge: Hon. Paula Brown
Date Verdict: November 20, 2013
Verdict: $6,420,467 for Plaintiff Mary Morvant
For Plaintiff: Philip Hoffman of Landry & Swarr, New Orleans, LA
For Defendant: Elizabeth Rambin and Ray Pajares of Pajares & Schexnaydre, Covington, LA
Fact Summary: Fourteen months after 60-year-old surgical nurse Mary Morvant was diagnosed with mesothelioma, an Orleans Parish jury reached a $6.4 million verdict against Asbestos Corporation Limited, which mined, milled and sold asbestos fiber to Johns-Manville in Marrero, Louisiana.
Plaintiff Mary Morvant is a surgical nurse, wife, mother and grandmother. Mrs. Morvant was diagnosed with mesothelioma in October 2012. Mesothelioma is a rare cancer in the lining of the lungs; the only known cause is exposure to asbestos. Mesothelioma is a painful, progressive, and fatal cancer. Mrs. Morvant was exposed to asbestos through household or secondary exposure from asbestos fibers brought home on the clothes and person of her father, Artney Morvant, Sr. who, when Mary Morvant was a child in the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s, sustained occupational exposure to asbestos as a result of his work at the Johns-Manville Marrero facility on the “West Bank” in various trades.
In addition, Mrs. Morvant was exposed to asbestos through environmental/neighborhood exposure to asbestos while residing on the “West Bank” of the metropolitan New Orleans area since birth at or near residences and areas contaminated with asbestos-containing scrap material or in close proximity to the JM plant. At the contaminated areas, homes and properties, Plaintiff was exposed to asbestos scrap material and plant operations from the Johns-Manville (JM) facility in Marrero and from asbestos waste delivered into her neighborhood.
Defendant Asbestos Corporation Limited (ACL), ACL supplied raw asbestos fiber to Johns-Manville Marrero, which was used in the production of transite pipe and in the JM scrap. Plaintiff sustained household and/or secondary exposure from asbestos fibers brought home on the clothes and person of her father and neighborhood exposure to asbestos attributable to the JM scrap and plant operations, which includes ACL’s fiber and was a cause of her mesothelioma.
Defendant Asbestos Corporation Limited refused to participate in discovery or to produce a corporate representative for deposition, citing the Quebec Business Concerns Records Act as a bar to the production of documents or information relating to the corporation to places or persons outside of the Province of Quebec. The District Court Judge rejected the application of the blocking statute. After being given numerous opportunities to comply with the District Court Judge’s orders to participate in discovery, the District Court Judge imposed a discovery sanction in the form of an irrebuttable presumption that Mary Morvant was exposed to asbestos fiber mined, milled or sold by Asbestos Corporation Limited. Asbestos Corporation Limited was precluded from introducing any evidence to the contrary.
Defendant Asbestos Corporation Limited contested the diagnosis of mesothelioma, along with every other issue in the case.
In April 2013, Mrs. Morvant was scheduled to have surgery to remove the tumor from the lining of her lung. However, in pre-operation testing, the doctors determined she had a positive response to chemotherapy and her tumor could not be detected on CT scan. Mrs. Morvant’s treating physicians testified that she still has mesothelioma and that when the tumor starts to grow she will be reevaluated for surgery.
Philip Hoffman of the plaintiff’s firm Landry & Swarr represented the client. Asbestos Corporation Limited was represented by Elizabeth Rambin and Ray Pajares of Pajares & Schexnaydre.
After seven days of testimony and cross-examination with nearly two hours of deliberations, the jury returned a verdict for Mrs. Morvant. Now that the trial is over, Mrs. Morvant and her husband will continue to consult doctors to determine the best course of treatment for Mrs. Morvant’s mesothelioma.
Date Prepared: December 16, 2013
Submitted by: Philip Hoffman