Riggs, Georgia-Pacific, Union Carbide, Asbestos & Mesothelioma

Riggs, Georgia-Pacific, Union Carbide, Asbestos & Mesothelioma: A recent case in the Supreme Court of Utah was asked to determine whether a judgment rendered in favor of the plaintiff in a personal injury suit bars a subsequent wrongful death claim arising out of the same injury and against the same defendants.

The Riggs, Georgia-Pacific, Union Carbide, Asbestos & Mesothelioma case documents what many secondary exposure victims, brake mechanics, Navy veterans, auto workers and many others may face today – past potential direct and secondary exposure to asbestos and mesothelioma. The court ruled: We hold that a prior personal injury suit does not bar a related wrongful death claim brought by the decedent’s heirs or personal representative.

A brief summary of the facts include:

  • Plaintiff Micah Riggs is the personal representative of the estate of decedent Vickie Warren, his mother-in-law. Mr. Riggs brought a wrongful death suit on behalf of Ms. Warren’s children, Amanda Riggs and Benjamin Warren (Heirs).
  • In 2007, Ms. Warren developed peritoneal mesothelioma, a rare type of cancer linked to asbestos exposure.
  • Later that year, Ms. Warren filed a personal injury lawsuit against Georgia-Pacific LLC, Union Carbide Corporation (Defendants), and other defendants not relevant here, seeking damages due to her exposure to asbestos, which she claimed caused her mesothelioma.
  • She asserted claims for negligence, strict product liability, and failure to warn. Ms. Warren’s complaint alleged that she came into contact with asbestos-containing products manufactured by the Defendants in various locations, including the school where she worked, the apartment units her brothers built on the family’s property, and the house where she lived with her father.
  • The personal injury lawsuit went to trial, and on May 12, 2010, a jury found that Ms. Warren was entitled to $5,256,818.61 in damages.
  • The jury allocated 5 percent of the fault to Georgia-Pacific and 20 percent to Union Carbide; the remaining fault was distributed among other parties. Ms. Warren died on May 25, 2010, thirteen days after receiving the verdict in her personal injury lawsuit.
  • The court of appeals later affirmed the judgment.

 To find out more on the case, see Case No. 20130459 – January 30, 2014.


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