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FEATURED CASE

LOS ANGELES JURY AWARDS 76-YEAR-OLD OIL REFINERY WORKER $14.876M FOR ASBESTOS EXPOSURE


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

Location: Los Angeles, California

Case: Shahabi v. A.W. Chesterton Company, et al.

Court: Superior Court of the State of California, County of Los Angeles, Case No. BC 379085.

Plaintiff’s Attorneys: Simona Farrise of Farrise Law Firm, Santa Barbara, California and Michael Armitage, Kevin Oliver and Benno Ashrafi of Waters & Kraus, Los Angeles, California.

Judge:  The Honorable Robert H. O’Brien

Case Synopsis: Mr. Amanollah Shahabi, a 76-year-old Iranian-American engineer, worked at oil refineries for over forty years in Iran and the U.S.  Mr. Shahabi specialized in pre-commissioning and commissioning oil refineries for the state run National Iranian Oil Company.  Mr. Shahabi was heavily involved in operations and management of the oil refineries. 

Mr. Shahabi relocated to the U.S. in the early 1980’s where he worked as a consultant while obtaining his U.S. citizenship.  He later worked for Bechtel on site at the Chevron refinery in Segundo, California. Since age 65, Mr. Shahabi had retired and then returned to work several times as a consultant.

For over forty years, Mr. Shahabi was exposed to asbestos-coated and asbestos-containing parts when he worked at oil refineries.  In June 2007, Mr. Shahabi was diagnosed with mesothelioma, a terminal cancer caused by asbestos exposure.

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Expert Testimony: First, Mr. Johnson was asked to calculate Mr. Shahabi’s loss of future earning capacity. Mr. Johnson reviewed Mr. Shahabi’s deposition testimony which stated that Mr. Shahabi had consulting opportunities to return to work. His rate of pay, based on previous job offers as an oil and gas consultant, would have been $250/hour.  Mr. Johnson then determined that Mr. Shahabi’s earning capacity would have been that of a consultant at least working quarter-time. Quarter-time could consist of either only three months per year or as little as two hours per day.  Mr. Shahabi had no intention of retiring as a consultant, so Mr. Johnson calculated the loss out to his life expectancy, less two years.

Second, Mr. Johnson was asked to calculate Mr. Shahabi’s loss of future household services due to Mr. Shahabi’s injuries.  These damages were calculated out to Mr. Shahabi’s life expectancy, less two years.

Result: After a trial lasting over a month, it took the jury only 3 days of deliberations to award Mr. Shahabi $14,876,000. The award consisted of:

  • $1,676,000 in economic damages, and
  • $13,200,000 for pain and suffering. 

The verdict, decided by a diverse jury of 10 men and 2 women, held that The Fluor Corporation exposed plaintiff to asbestos and was 45% responsible for causing his terminal cancer. 

Attorney’s Comments:  According to Plaintiff’s attorney Simona Farrise, “Mr. Johnson’s work in this case, as in every case where he has worked as an expert, has been superb!  His preparation is impeccable.  He is always responsive and flexible to the needs of the case.  Top notch across the board.”