Pennsylvania Jury Awards $3.8 Million Asbestos Verdict in Industrial Talc Trial

$3.8 Million Asbestos Verdict Secured by Simmons Hanly Conroy

Simmons Hanly Conroy attorneys secure justice for family of Pennsylvania laborer who died from mesothelioma after exposure to asbestos-contaminated industrial talc.

Simmons Hanly Conroy, one of the nation’s largest mesothelioma law firms, has secured a $3.8 million verdict against Washington Penn Plastics (Wash Penn) on behalf of the estate of Daniel “Dan” Rugg and his wife Sandra Rugg. Mr. Rugg died of mesothelioma, an occupational cancer caused by asbestos, after working for approximately 30 years as a maintenance worker at the plastics factory in Pennsylvania.

The jury found Wash Penn failed to provide a reasonably safe workplace and awarded $1.4 million in compensatory damages to the family’s estate, $1.65 million in wrongful death damages, and $750,000 in loss of consortium to Sandra Rugg.

“After examining hundreds of pieces of evidence, the jury found that Wash Penn failed to provide a reasonably safe workplace by using industrial talc that contained asbestos,” said Shareholder James Kramer, who served as trial counsel with Shareholder Donald P. Blydenburgh. “The jury clearly understood that companies must take responsibility for exposing their employees to asbestos.”

Expert testimony during the trial showed that the talc used at the plant contained asbestos fibers. Mr. Rugg dumped 50-pound bags of industrial talc into giant storage hoppers. Washington Penn was provided with testing documents showing its industrial talc contained asbestos but never shared that information with their employees, including Dan Rugg.

Testimony during trial revealed Washington Penn knew of the dangers of asbestos as early as the 1960s. Yet, the factory never warned its employees or required them to wear protective gear like masks or use respirators.

“Dan’s asbestos exposure was prolonged and immense,” said Blydenburgh. “He worked hard his entire life so he could enjoy retirement with his grandchildren. Instead, he developed and died from an entirely preventable cancer.”

Mr. Rugg was an avid outdoorsman and enjoyed taking his grandchildren camping and fishing. After developing symptoms in 2018, he underwent several tests and surgical procedures, including a thoracentesis where fluid was removed from his lungs. He was diagnosed with mesothelioma in spring 2019 and passed away in 2021 at 64.

Every day of the trial, Sandra Rugg sat in the courtroom holding a picture of Dan. Dan Rugg's wife holding his picture on her lap in court during the trial

“This lawsuit was never about the money,” she said. “This is about the fact that a jury has held Wash Penn responsible for putting profits over its people. I hope no other family has to go through the loss and pain my family and I have experienced.”

The trial lasted 3 weeks, and the jury deliberated for a day. The verdict was awarded on Thursday, July 14.

In addition to Kramer and Blydenburgh, Shareholders Randy S. Cohn, Jared Hausmann and Todd Gampp represented Sandra and the family in the Pennsylvania Court of Common Pleas before the Hon. Glynnis D. Hill.

The verdict marks the 10th mesothelioma verdict the firm has won on behalf of mesothelioma patients in the past five years.