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Plaintiffs’ Appeal Had ‘Merit’, Ruling Overturned in Pep Boys Asbestos Case

A California appellate court has reversed part of a ruling in an asbestos case involving Pep Boys, a lifelong mechanic, and his family. The mechanic specialized in brake repair and replacement, working on cars on his own and with the help of his three sons. The plaintiff shopped for auto parts primarily at Pep Boys and Chief Auto Parts but according to ruling, Pep Boys was his “favorite.”

During the 1960s through the mid-1980s, Pep Boys sold asbestos-containing brakes. During this time, the plaintiff purchased Bendix, EIS, and Raybestos brand brakes, and installed these brakes on numerous cars with the help of his sons. Chief Auto did not sell EIS or Raybestos brakes, but may have sold Bendix.

Installing the brakes involved removing old brake materials as well as refreshing brakes, which didn’t require replacement. “All these activities involved brushing brake dust from auto wheel drums, grinding or sanding brake shoes, handling ‘core’ (old) brake parts and sweeping up brake dust.”

“Any one of these activities alone and certainly all of them taken together resulted in multiple exposures to friable asbestos from auto brake parts. In the course of these activities (the plaintiff) inhaled asbestos fibers on many occasions.” Although there was evidence that, “several sources of exposure to friable asbestos all constituted significant factors increasing the victims’ risk of contracting mesothelioma,” the trial court “specifically found that among those sources of exposure were Pep Boys’ brake products.” These products contained asbestos that exposed the (plaintiff) to friable asbestos fibers, which he inhaled and which were a substantial factor which increased his risk of contracting mesothelioma.”

As a result, the plaintiff was diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma in April 2010. He died in July 2010 at the age of 75.

In the original lawsuit, the plaintiffs were awarded $213,052 as economic damages. However, the amount was offset by good-faith settlements the plaintiffs had entered into prior to trial with other parties, which totaled $721,500. The plaintiffs appealed, claiming the trial court erred in five respects.

In the 50-page ruling, the court found "merit" in the third and fifth grounds, reversing the judgement, in part, remanding to the trial court for further proceedings. With this ruling, the victim’s family has a clear path to seek compensation for medical expenses.

If you have been exposed to asbestos, schedule an appointment to see your doctor today. There is no cure for mesothelioma. However, early detection could lead to better treatment options and longer survival.

 

Sources

Court of Appeals of the State of California, First Appellate District, Division Four, (San Francisco County Super. Ct. No. CGC 11275749), Case Number A146060. 23 Aug. 2018. Web 15 Sep. 2018.