HPTY Successfully Defends Appeal of Trial Verdict

July 26, 2013
Superior Court of Los Angeles

In January 2012, Robert Thackston and Claire Weglarz obtained a favorable verdict for their client in a personal injury mesothelioma case pending in the Los Angeles Superior Court (Keeney, et al. v. A.W. Chesterton Company, et al.). The Plaintiff had served in the Navy for 20 years before working at a sugar manufacturing plant for another 17 years. After 14 days of deliberation, the jury returned a verdict for the plaintiffs that assigned only 12% liability to HPTY’s client, 70% to the Navy, 13% to the Plaintiff’s employer, and 5% to the Plaintiff himself.

On appeal, Plaintiffs challenged the jury’s allocation to the Navy, the employer, and the Plaintiff. They argued that HPTY’s client should be held 100% liable because there was insufficient evidence for the jury to apportion liability to the other parties and entities. Essentially, Plaintiffs argued that a defendant must present specific evidence "quantifying" or "qualifying" a joint tortfeasor’s contribution to the Plaintiff’s injury.

Finding substantial evidence to support the jury’s allocation of fault, the California Court of Appeal (2nd District) affirmed the trial verdict in its entirety, issuing an opinion less than a week after oral argument. The court held that it is not incumbent on a defendant "to produce evidence –– expert or otherwise –– quantifying precise percentages of liability."

Julia A. Gowin took lead on the appellate briefing, assisted by Robert Thackston, Claire Weglarz, Sarah Foley, Matt Sapp, Rob Gilbreath, and Taylor Giannasi. Barry Schirm argued the appeal. 

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