ALTON, Illinois – Simmons Hanly Conroy, one of the nation’s leading mesothelioma and asbestos law firms, is pleased to announce a $10.3 million verdict secured on behalf of former longshoreman Henry Pete has been ranked among The National Law Journal’s Top 100 Verdicts for 2020. Compiled by VerdictSearch, an affiliate of The National Law Journal, the list will appear in the legal publication today.
The Nov. 4, 2020, verdict against two stevedoring companies and a shipping company ranks 42nd on this year’s list. It is the fifth consecutive year the firm has had a verdict included in the NLJ’s Top 100 Verdicts list.
Firm Shareholders Gary DiMuzio, Michael K. Hibey, Melissa Crowe Schopfer and Jean-Michel LeCointre represented the family in the Civil District Court for the Parish of Orleans before the Hon. Ethel Simms Julien.
The jury awarded $10,351,020.70 in compensatory damages and held Ports America Gulfport, Inc., f/k/a Atlantic & Gulf; Cooper T. Smith Stevedoring Co., Inc; and South African Marine (Safmarine) each substantially contributed to Pete’s development of mesothelioma.
Pete worked as a longshoreman from 1964 until 1968, unloading cargo, including burlap bags of asbestos. During the trial, he testified that the bags often tore open, spreading asbestos dust within the ship’s hold. Further, he shared that African-American workers like he and his father were given the dirtiest and most dangerous jobs, without any warnings about the hazardous properties of the materials they were handling. Pete was diagnosed with mesothelioma in 2019.
The six-week trial was further notable as the first in-person asbestos trial in the state of Louisiana since courts had shut down in March 2020. Safety precautions taken by the court to protect against COVID-19 included using plexiglass barriers, socially distancing jurors, wearing masks and utilizing remote expert testimony.
Earlier this year, Texas Lawyer, another ALM publication, also included the verdict on its Top Verdicts & Settlements of the Southwest 2020 list as well. In addition, the verdict is one of the largest results ever in the state of Louisiana for a living mesothelioma victim.
The National Law Journal’s annual list ranks verdicts based on the amount awarded by the jury and does not account for judicial reductions, offsets or appeals. VerdictSearch compiles information from the nation’s court records, as well as from practitioners and other ALM Media LLC publications. The full list is available on the National Law Journal website (subscription required).
The verdict is the seventh asbestos verdict the firm’s asbestos attorneys have won on behalf of clients since 2017, for a total of more than $180 million awarded in verdicts. The case is Henry Pete vs. Boland Marine and Manufacturing Company, LLC, et. al., No. 2019-10545, Section 8, Division N (La Civil. Dist. Ct., Orleans Parish.).