In May 2000, Simmons Hanly Conroy won the largest asbestos verdict in U.S. history, according to Mealey’s Litigation Reporter. Our client, a 64-year-old Missouri resident, was exposed to asbestos when he worked at Shell Oil Company’s Wood River, Illinois refinery from 1956 – 1966. In 1998, he was diagnosed with mesothelioma, a cancer of the lung lining.
The Simmons Hanly Conroy secured the $34.1 million jury verdict by successfully arguing Shell knew of the danger of asbestos long before their client knew and did nothing to prevent the asbestos exposure. The breakthrough in the case came during trial when Randall A. Bono deposed a Shell Oil paralegal from Houston, Texas. In the deposition, she admitted she and the lawyers for Shell were aware of more than 100 boxes of documents containing undisclosed, incriminating evidence pertinent to the case.
“Virtually every document admitted into evidence in this trial was withheld from us,” Bono said. The Simmons Hanly Conroy’s diligence in exposing the documents led to a judicial ruling finding Shell did have knowledge of, and failed to disclose, the necessary documents. After deliberating for about five hours, the jury returned a verdict of $9.1 million in compensatory damages and $25 million in punitive damages.
John Simmons, founder of Simmons Hanly Conroy, said appeal of the case could require three years if it went to the Illinois Supreme Court or as long as five years if it reached the U.S. Supreme Court.
The Simmons Hanly Conroy, which has advocated asbestos claims since July 1999, has handled many multi-million dollar asbestos lawsuits. This verdict is more than triple the previous Illinois record in an asbestos case and establishes Simmons Hanly Conroy as one of the nation’s leading firms in the high-stakes cause of action.