May 22, 2014

Wah Leads Winning Team in Longstanding Asbestos Trial

On April 29, 2014, a New Orleans jury ruled in favor of two asbestos defendants in a mesothelioma wrongful death trial,  Landry vs. Steel Grip Safety Apparel. Representing Steel Grip was Foley & Mansfield Partner Douglas Wah, assisted by Barbara Lee, Trial Coordinator from the firm’s Northern California office. 

Widow Clailee Landry and her two sons, were represented by Gerolyn Roussel of Roussel and Clemente of New Orleans, LA.  

This case had been the second oldest in the State of Louisiana, having been originally filed in 2002.  It had been assigned 4 previous trial dates, the earliest being in 2005. In 2012, the plaintiff filed a Motion for Summary Judgment on the eve of trial which was granted.  In 2013 Mr. Wah argued for Steel Grip before the Louisiana Court of Appeals and had the summary judgment decision reversed. The trial date of April 21, 2014 was then assigned to the case.   

Decedent Raleigh Landry had been a lifelong pipefitter and welder at Avondale and McDermott shipyards near New Orleans.  He also worked at various industrial plants and oil refineries in the area.  He contracted mesothelioma in the early 2000s. He filed a personal injury lawsuit in 2002, but died shortly thereafter.    

At his deposition Landry identified Steel Grip as being one of the asbestos gloves he wore at work.  His corroborating witness was a long-time friend, John Grisaffe who  testified at trial.  The major issue for defendants was product identification – “Did Raleigh work with, work around or in the vicinity of asbestos products made or distributed by Steel Grip at any worksite?”    

The case began April 21, 2014 before Judge Michael Bagneris.  The parties stipulated to the cause of death – mesothelioma. Testifying for plaintiffs was Grisaffe, decedent Raleigh Landry by deposition, son Glenn Landry and another pipefitter, Ned Blanchard by deposition Plaintiffs also called an expert, James Millette, CIH as part of their case in chief.    

Steel Grip’s witnesses were its PMK Tom McGurk by deposition, and an expert in microscopy and material science, William Longo.  John Crane only presented its PMK by deposition. 

Final arguments were April 29th.  The jury deliberated for 2 hours and returned a verdict in favor of both defendants by a count of 11-1.  A Judgment Notwithstanding the Verdict has already been filed by plaintiffs. 

Douglas Wah