A California jury has awarded $4.6 million in punitive damages to the family of a man who developed mesothelioma from asbestos. This brings to $22.17 million the total verdict against Imerys Talc America Inc. and Vanderbilt Minerals LLC. The second Defendant has now settled with the family. The jury in Alameda County, California, Superior Court added the punitive damages to the compensatory-damages verdict on Nov. 27 that included a stipulated $440,000 in economic damages for Richard Booker, who died in 2016, as well as other noneconomic damages for his surviving family members.
Those damages included $500,000 in pre-death damages and $7.63 million in post-death damages for Richard’s widow, Cheryl Booker; $3 million each for daughters Julie Mae Porter and Denise Rodriguez; and $1 million each for grandchildren Kaylie Klitzing, Sienna Gavino and Capri Gavino, adding up to a total of $17.57 million in compensatory damages. Forty percent of the blame was put on Imerys, and Vanderbilt was assessed with 60 percent.
Vanderbilt settled following the compensatory verdict phase of the trial. Mr. Booker died on June 3, 2016, at 72, after developing mesothelioma from working as a paintmaker and tinter at the Dexter-Midland Chemical Co. in Hayward, California, from 1972 to 1993. Talc was used to make the paint he worked with. He lived for less than a year after his August 2015 diagnosis.
As we have previously reported, asbestos was connected to health risks as early as the 1890s, and it was understood to be carcinogenic in some industrial sectors by the 1940s. The Nationwide Occupational Safety and Health Administration safety guidelines for workers took effect in 1971.
The Plaintiffs are represented by Joseph Satterley, Denyse Clancy and Henry Steinberg of Kazan McClain Satterley & Greenwood. The case is Booker v. Imerys et al., (case number RG15796166) in the Alameda County Superior Court.