Case details

Mine could not have caused mesothelioma, defense argued





Result type

Not present

cancer, mesothelioma
Between 1959 and 1972, plaintiff Anthony Marquez, a resident of Coalinga, was allegedly exposed to deadly asbestos-containing fibers, which was emanating from a nearby Johns Manville mine on a daily basis. Marquez claimed that as a result of the exposure, he developed peritoneal mesothelioma, which is an aggressive, incurable cancer that often stems from exposure to asbestos. He was diagnosed on Jan. 24, 2013. Marquez sued the owner of the mine, PAC Operating Limited Partnership; and numerous other parties, including Chevron U.S.A. Inc. and Exxon Mobil Corp. Marquez brought toxic tort, premises liability, and negligence causes of actions against the defendants. Exxon Mobil was dismissed from the case via a successful motion for summary judgment. In addition, Chevron U.S.A. Inc., as well as several other entities originally named in the lawsuit, resolved their cases confidentially, leaving PAC as the lone defendant. Plaintiff’s counsel contended that the deadly asbestos-containing fibers emanating from the mine led to Marquez contracting peritoneal mesothelioma, a deadly form of the disease. Specifically, Marquez claimed that he was exposed to asbestos fibers that blew into the town of Coalinga, where he lived, from the mine/mill-site that was located in the mountains. He also claimed that he was exposed to asbestos fibers during occasional rains that washed the fibers from the mine/mill site into a creek in town. Plaintiff’s counsel called 10 witnesses, including experts in epidemiology, asbestos history and industrial hygiene, all who testified that asbestos-containing fibers from the mine were the cause of Marquez’s mesothelioma. Thus, plaintiff’s counsel argued that PAC should be held 15 percent liable for Marquez’s total damages, with the remaining 85 percent being allocated to previously resolved defendants. PAC’s counsel contended that PAC leased its land to the Coalinga Asbestos Company, which was run by Johns Manville, and that Johns Manville’s operation of the mine and mill situated on PAC property was in accordance with standard mining practices of the time. Counsel also contended that there was no evidence that PAC or Johns Manville violated any laws in place at that time and that the Environmental Protection Agency conducted studies of the Johns Manville operation since 1973 and found that it was in accordance with the mining and milling practices of the day. PAC’s counsel argued that a mine and mill located 17 miles away, and elevated over 4,000 feet in the mountains, could not be a substantial factor in causing Marquez’s mesothelioma. Counsel also argued that Marquez’s own experts, which included an industrial hygienist and epidemiologist, agreed that a mine located that distance from Marquez would have had very little, if any, impact on Marquez’s exposure to asbestos. Counsel further argued that the more likely cause of the mesothelioma was Marquez’s 30-year career as a pipe technician, working with and around amosite-containing pipes., On Jan. 24, 2013, Marquez was diagnosed with peritoneal mesothelioma,a rare type of cancer that occurs in the thin cell walls that surround the abdominal cavity. He has since been hospitalized on numerous occasions and treated with chemotherapy. Marquez claimed that he plans to undergo a surgery that may provide him with a few extra years to live, but that his life expectancy has been drastically reduced due to his mesothelioma. Thus, Marquez sought recovery of $137,000 in past medical costs, $150,000 in future medical costs, $509,459 in future lost social security benefits, and in excess of $4 million in damages for his pain and suffering.
Superior Court of Los Angeles County, Santa Monica, CA

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