An Oklahoma appeals court has upheld an $8 million verdict in a woman’s suit alleging her son died of mesothelioma that resulted from exposure via his stepfather, an oil worker who regularly worked with products containing asbestos.
In an opinion filed Friday, the Oklahoma Court of Civil Appeals rejected arguments from National Oilwell Varco LP, Union Carbide Corp. and Montello Inc. that the trial court wrongly denied them the chance to blame other, nonparty entities for the death of Brennan James Atkeson, allowing the verdict to stand.
Fox-Jones alleged that at that job, Pratt worked with products manufactured by the three companies that contained asbestos, and the fibers stayed on his clothing and body when he went home, where Atkeson was exposed. At trial in 2019, the jury found the companies’ negligence and failure to warn about the dangers of asbestos led to Atkeson’s exposure, and awarded his family $8 million, prompting the appeal.
The companies argued they were unfairly prejudiced by a pretrial order barring them from introducing evidence or testimony that would place the blame for Atkeson’s exposure on other nonparties, but the appeals court found it was a valid sanction for their behavior during discovery. The panel found the jury was free to believe Fox-Jones’s experts and testimony over the competing experts and testimony of the companies.