News Release

July 20, 2016

Defense Verdict in Asbestos-Cement Pipe Wrongful Death Case

Written by: Peterson & Myers, P.A.

On July 7, 2016, Peterson & Myers trial lawyer Kevin Ashley, along with a trial team of lawyers from Atlanta and Washington, D.C., won a defense verdict in Sebring (Highlands County), Florida, for CertainTeed Corporation, a national building products company. The claimant passed away from peritoneal mesothelioma in 2009, alleging before his death that he had been exposed to asbestos after cutting several pieces of CertainTeed irrigation pipe containing asbestos. Testimony and other evidence indicated that some of the same pipe had been later reused in a citrus grove owned by the decedent’s family. When portions of that pipe were excavated in 2015, it proved to be pipe manufactured by a CertainTeed competitor, not by CertainTeed. Other evidence in the case demonstrated that one of the personal representatives of the decedent’s estate had possession of pieces of the alleged asbestos-containing pipe, but he later destroyed those pieces while the case was being prepared for trial. The trial judge found that the personal representative had improperly destroyed evidence, resulting in an adverse instruction to the jury about the spoliation of that evidence. CertainTeed’s trial team presented a vigorous defense of product identification and medical causation, including evidence of heavy doses of radiation the claimant had received for a childhood cancer. After a two-and-a-half week jury trial before the Honorable Peter Estrada, the jury deliberated less than two hours, returning a defense verdict. Serving as CertainTeed’s trial counsel in addition to Kevin Ashley were Al Parnell and Frances Lopez (Hawkins Parnell Thackston & Young, LLP (Atlanta)) along with Jeffrey D. Skinner (Schiff Hardin, LLP (Washington D.C.)).

Kevin Ashley is a shareholder at Peterson & Myers, is an AV-rated lawyer by Martindale-Hubbell, and has been a Board Certified Specialist in Civil Trial Law since 2006. Only 7% of eligible Florida Bar members are board certified specialists, the highest level of evaluation by The Florida Bar of the competency and experience of attorneys in specific areas of law approved for certification.