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Cimino v. Raymark Industries, Inc.

151 F.3d 297 (1998)

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Cimino v. Raymark Industries, Inc.

United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit

151 F.3d 297 (1998)

Facts

Cimino and other individuals exposed to products containing asbestos (plaintiffs) brought a class-action products-liability suit against Pittsburgh Corning and other manufacturers of the products (defendants). The plaintiffs were exposed to asbestos while working different types of jobs at several different worksites at different times. In all, the class consisted of 2,298 claims. The jury found that the defendants sold products that were unreasonably dangerous and that each defendant was guilty of gross negligence. The district court divided the plaintiffs’ damages into five categories of disease that might have resulted from exposure to asbestos: mesothelioma, lung cancer, other cancer, asbestosis, and pleural disease. The district court then randomly selected 160 sample cases (a statistically significant percentage of the total claims) that included plaintiffs from each disease category. As to each of these 160 cases, the district court charged the jury with respect to determining whether the individual plaintiff sustained harm from an asbestos-containing product and, if so, the amount of damages that should be awarded. Each defendant individually stipulated to a comparative percentage of liability, but reserved the right to object to the district court’s trial plan. Under the stipulation, Pittsburgh Corning was 10 percent liable for the plaintiffs’ injuries. The jury reached a verdict in each of the 160 sample cases. The district court then planned to extrapolate these jury verdicts to the remaining claims by assigning each claim to one of the five categories of disease and awarding each plaintiff an average amount of the damages awarded in the sample cases. Pittsburgh Corning appealed the district court’s sample-case verdicts and extrapolation plan.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Garwood, J.)

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