By Laura Halleman | Mar 13, 2017


NEW YORK – Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Joan Madden has set appeal brief deadlines for lawyers in Texas who lost in a case that ended in a $75 million asbestos exposure verdict for a Long Island couple after a nearly two-month long trial.

Dana Cos. LLC, a Texas manufacturer of Victor engine gaskets, is one of four companies filing an appeal in the case.

Plaintiffs in the lawsuit are Marlena and Edward Robaey of Long Island. Edward Robaey was a car enthusiast and drag racer. He had worked on his race cars doing engine gasket work beginning in the early 1970s. His wife, Marlena, would assist him, often sweeping up the garage floor and washing Edward’s clothing after he worked on cars in their garage.

In the complaint, the Robaeys stated, “they could see visible dust emanating from the worn gaskets being removed from the engines during the scraping process.”

The Robaey’s testified that they had no clue that asbestos was hazardous or a carcinogen during this time; that they never saw warnings on the engine gaskets or the packaging about the hazards of asbestos; and that if they had known that asbestos caused cancer that they wouldn’t have worked with or used such ultra hazardous products.

Marlena Robaey was diagnosed with mesothelioma, cancer of the abdomen and lungs, in November 2012. She is now in hospice care.

The main share of the damage was apportioned to Dana at 40 percent of the settlement amount. The jury unanimously agree that Dana “acted with reckless disregard for the safety of others.”

James Powers of Powers Law Firm in Houston represents Dana. He had no comment on the settlement or appeals process.

“The whole point of the trial was that Dana had not properly warned plaintiffs, so beyond that I have nothing to say,” Powers told The Record.

Other defendants include Federal-Mogul Asbestos Personal Injury Trust, Crane Co. and Cleaver Brooks Co. Inc.

“Dana sold products with asbestos for decades and never warned anyone about it,” Danny Kraft, associate attorney with Weitz and Luxenberg and the Robaey’s counsel, told The Record. “At the end of the day, Dana sold a product that contained a carcinogen that caused cancer. If the Robaeys had been told these gaskets were going to kill them, they would not have used them. Dana’s corporate liability is terrible.”

Kraft stated in the settlement, “They failed to test their products to determine if the asbestos engine gaskets were hazardous; that they warned their own plant personnel about the dangers of breathing asbestos; that they placed warnings on bulk shipments of gaskets used in their plants and sold to large OEM companies like GM, Ford, CAT, Mack, etc. but failed to warn mechanics like Ed Robaey about the hazards of asbestos despite knowing that breathing asbestos dust could cause cancer.”

The jury awarded $50 million for pain and suffering to Marlena Robaey and $25 million for the loss of consortium to Edward Robaey.

“I feel very comfortable in the jury’s verdict and in saying that we will win the appeals,” Kraft said. “A corporate representative for Dana even testified that asbestos warning labels were taken off gaskets before being sold. We proved our case about Dana.”

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