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FEATURED ARTICLE

ECONOMIST’S TESTIMONY AIDS JURY IN AWARDING $10.3 MILLION FOR ASBESTOS EXPOSED RETIREE


Robert W. Johnson & Associates was retained to provide economic testimony in quantifying the present cash value of lost income and lost household services.

Location: San Francisco, California

Case: George Barnes and Darlene Barnes v. A.W. Chesterton Company, et al.

Court: San Francisco County Superior Court, Case No. 446017.

Plaintiff’s Attorneys: Martha Berman of the Law Offices of Levin, Simes, Kaiser and Gornick, San Francisco, California.

Judge: The Honorable Diane Elan Wick.

Case Synopsis: George Barnes, a union ship fitter, had worked at the Long Beach Naval shipyard for 25 years before retiring in 1992. Prior to his 60th birthday, Mr. Barnes, who had never smoked, began experiencing a persistent cough and noticed that his lung capacity had diminished.

He went to see his doctor and the doctor was suspicious of the symptoms and requested an x-ray of his chest. The resulting image showed a large mass in the right side of his chest and a collapsed right lung. The doctor was unable to determine the type of mass, so he consulted a pulmonologist.

Mr. Barnes was then sent to a surgeon who performed a biopsy. After receiving the biopsy results, the doctors determined that Mr. Barnes was suffering from terminal mesothelioma, a lung cancer caused by asbestos exposure.

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Expert Testimony: In this case, Mr. Johnson was retained to testify regarding loss of income and household services.

Mr. Johnson reviewed Mr. Barnes’ income sources to determine his future economic losses. Mr. Barnes was receiving a Federal Civil Service Pension of $32,808 per annum and a Navy Pension of $10,800 per annum. He was projected to receive Social Security benefits of $6,264 per annum beginning in August 2011. His household services were valued at $10,346 per annum.

Dr. Barry Horn, plaintiff’s pulmonologist, projected Mr. Barnes’ reduced life expectancy to be only an additional 6 months. This is compared to a normal life expectancy of 20 years. Mr. Johnson’s calculation of Mr. Barnes’ lost income and household services over 19.5 years (20 years - 6 months = 19.5 years) totaled $1,040,057.

Results: On August 7, 2006, the jury found that Thorpe Insulation Company (the only remaining defendant) and other defendants were responsible for Mr. Barnes’ asbestos exposure which led to his terminal mesothelioma. The jury returned a $10.3 million verdict, consisting of $861,083 for past and future income loss, $178,974 for loss of ability to provide household services ($861,083 + $178,974 = $1,040,057), $210,000 in past and future medical bills and $9 million for non-economic damages.

Attorney Comments: According to Plaintiffs’ attorney Martha Berman, “Mr. Johnson was very sincere and credible. One juror even commented that Mr. Johnson was able to explain damages in concepts that they could understand and appreciate. As a result, the jurors gave Mr. Barnes every dollar that Mr. Johnson put on the board for income and household services damages. I think the jurors’ understanding of the economic concepts helped me in getting a large non-economic verdict.”