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South Carolina Jury Awards $38M in Asbestos Case

After a 2 ½ week trial, a South Carolina man who regularly worked with asbestos-containing materials was awarded $38 million in damages for health problems related to exposure to the toxic mineral.

An article in The State reports that Lloyd Strom Garvin, age 74 of Wagener, South Carolina, was awarded $10 million in actual damages and his wife was awarded $1 million for loss of consortium. In addition, defendants Durco and Crane Co. were ordered to pay $11M each in punitive damages, and defendant Byron Jackson was ordered to pay $5M. All of the defendants deemed the awards unreasonable.

All three defendants are involved in the manufacture of pumps and valves which, for decades, contained asbestos. Garvin told the jury that his years of exposure to the defendants’ asbestos-containing gaskets as well as to packing in valves and pumps that he used in both factory and farm work caused him to develop mesothelioma.

However, a spokesperson for Crane said there is “no credible evidence” that Crane was responsible for Garvin’s mesothelioma, and he called the award “excessive and unwarranted.” The other defendants concurred and will most likely all appeal the verdict.

Garvin was unable to testify in person. Extremely ill, he was recovering from double pneumonia at the time of the trial and his testimony was presented by video. Doctors say he has less than a year to live because of his cancer.

His lawyer asked the jury to consider awarding $1 million in actual damages for each year of life that Garvin was expected to miss because of his exposure to asbestos. National statistics show that Garvin’s life expectancy could have been another 10 to 11 years, the attorney pointed out.