Newport News jury hands down $25 million verdict against Exxon in asbestos case

Quoted from,0,4639148.story

Newport News jury hands down $25 million verdict against Exxon in asbestos case

The jury verdict will be reduced to $17.5 million, and Exxon is expected to appeal

By Peter Dujardin, | 247-4749

5:32 p.m. EDT, March 17, 2011

NEWPORT NEWS— A Newport News Circuit Court jury on Thursday hit oil giant Exxon Mobil with a $25 million verdict in an asbestos lawsuit brought by a former shipyard worker — among the largest jury verdicts ever handed down in a Virginia personal injury case.

Rubert “Bert” Minton, 72, of the Carrollton section of Isle of Wight County, was a repair supervisor on commercial vessels at Newport News Shipbuilding between 1966 and 1977, and had previously worked there for seven years as a ship fitter in new construction.

During his time at the shipyard, Minton worked on 17 Exxon commercial oil tankers then being repaired.

Decades later, he was diagnosed with mesothelioma, a deadly asbestos-related cancer that doctors said he got from breathing billions of asbestos fibers while at the yard. He has a life expectancy of about two more years and faces a painful death, his lawyer said. He sued Exxon in late 2009.

After a nearly three-week trial in Newport News Circuit Court before Judge Timothy Fisher, the seven-member jury began deliberating Wednesday morning, reaching a verdict Thursday morning.

The jury awarded Minton $12 million in compensatory damages, $12.5 million in punitive damages, and $430,961 in medical expenses, plus interest.

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