April 17, 1997. A Baltimore Circuit Court jury yesterday ordered the
Owens- Corning Corp. to pay more than $16 million to a Savannah, Ga. man who
suffers from mesothelioma, a form of lung cancer caused by exposure to
James Hammond, 41, a father of five, was exposed to asbestos in 1975 when he
was in the Navy and served aboard the USS Nimitz, an aircraft carrier, said
his attorney, Shepard A. Hoffman of Baltimore.
Hammond installed a 600-foot communications cable in the crawl space along a
corridor in the aircraft carrier over a two-month period. During the
installation, he had to remove some of the asbestos- lined insulation that
was covering pipes in the crawl space. He inhaled some of the insulation.
The award, which a jury delivered after deliberating for two hours, appears
to be the first case in which the exposure took place after the company
stopped manufacturing asbestos in 1972, Hoffman said.
"They tried to take the position in this trial that as of the date they
stopped manufacturing these products, they could wash their hands of
responsibility, turn their backs on the product and say, `Now it's someone
else's problem,'" Hoffman said.
Attempts to reach Baltimore attorney Gregory Lockwood, who represented
Owens-Corning, were not successful.
The case began about a month ago before Judge Edward J. Angeletti with six
plaintiffs, but five of them reached settlements before the last case went
to the jury.
The jury awarded Hammond $1.236 million in economic damages because of the
disease, which was diagnosed in 1995. That amount was agreed to by the
plaintiff and Owens-Corning, Hoffman said. Jurors also awarded Hammond $15
million for pain and suffering.
"The issue for the jury was what kind of compensation was owed for the
terrible implications and ramifications of this disease, both physically,
mentally and emotionally for the years that he's going to have to deal with
it," Hoffman said.
The case was tried in Maryland because one of the companies that was
originally named in the lawsuit was based in this state and because Hammond
received most of his medical treatment at the National Institutes of Health
in Bethesda, Hoffman said.