Jury divides up $443K asbestos settlement

David Yates Jan. 30, 2012, 6:59am


Last Thursday, Jefferson County jurors divided up $443,000 in asbestos lawsuit settlement proceeds among divided families.

Court records state that following the death of her husband Claude Franklin, Mary Ann Franklin joined an ongoing class-action suit first filed in Jefferson County District Court on June 4, 1998, against dozens of oil and chemical companies.

Class members allege defendant companies such as Mobil Oil and DuPont negligently and maliciously exposed workers to asbestos when the companies knew asbestos dust and fibers created health hazards.

On Jan. 24 a trial between plaintiffs Mary Ann Franklin, Chelsea Franklin, Carolyn Harris and Pamela Terry was held.

Jurors were tasked to decide how past and future settlement proceeds would be divided between the plaintiffs, court papers say.

According to the court's charge to the jury, 5 percent was awarded to the estate of Claude Franklin; Mary Franklin received 5 percent for her loss of consortium plus an additional 15 percent as a wrongful death beneficiary.

Chelsea Franklin, Harris and Terry all received 25 percent.

The on going lawsuit has already generated $443,000 in settlements, court records show.

The suit stems from the death of Claude Franklin, who died of cancer on May 20, 1999. Mary Ann Franklin alleges her husband's death was a direct result of his asbestos exposure.

Several months ago, two women claiming to be Claude Franklin's daughters, Harris and Terry, intervened in the case, asserting they are entitled to the suit's settlement proceeds.

A day before the trial, a hearing on the paternity matter was held on Jan. 23 in Judge Donald Floyd's 172nd District Court.

During the hearing, Harris testified that she was in Claude Franklin's will and identified as his daughter.

Harris also said she and Terry had a DNA test performed which proved they shared a biological parent.

Plaintiff's attorney Reginald McKamie had argued the DNA test did not name Claude Franklin as the father, and only proved the two interveners are sisters.

Judge Floyd found in favor of the interveners, giving the green light for the case to be heard before the Jefferson County jury.

Houston attorney Jason Payne represents the interveners

Case No. E159-183-s

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