Segal McCambridge Founding Shareholder Edward J. McCambridge and Chicago Shareholder Jason P. Eckerly successfully appealed a trial court verdict in Kinseth v. Weil-McLain Company, et al., on behalf of their client, Weil-McLain.
On April 19, 2017, the Court of Appeals of Iowa issued an Order in favor of Weil-McLain, reversing the trial court's verdict and remanding the case for a new trial. Plaintiff had been awarded $4 million in compensatory damages at trial (with Weil-McLain having been found 25% at fault) and $2.5 million in punitive damages against Weil-McLain.
By way of history, Plaintiff Kinseth and his wife brought claims of negligence, product liability and breach of implied warranty of merchantability against 42 companies based on claims that the eventual death of Kinseth resulted from exposure to asbestos rope and cement used during his work in the heating and plumbing industry during which he worked with boilers. Eventually, only Weil-McLain remained a defendant at trial.
On appeal, Weil-McLain pointed to statements made by plaintiffs' counsel during closing arguments that violated defense counsel's motions in limine and argued that the motions for mistrial that they brought should have been granted at that time. Furthermore, Weil-McLain argued that the trial court admitted certain evidence and, in doing so, abused its discretion. Lastly, defense counsel argued that the jury should have considered fault of three additional original defendants and that punitive damages were improper.
On appeal, the Court agreed with counsel for Weil-McLain that, in fact, defense counsel's motion in limine had been violated and further determined that plaintiffs' counsel improperly engaged in closing statements which questioned the application of the statute of repose. The Court also found that the lower court erred in not including a third-party on the special verdict form. Because the Court reversed and remanded for a new trial, the Court made no ruling on the award of punitive damages.