On October 6, 2016, the First Department issued slip opinions for three Weitz & Luxenberg, P.C. cases against Crane Co. These decisions rely heavily on the Court of Appeal’s decision in Dummitt and focus on Crane Co.’s promotion and sale of insulation; knowledge that asbestos would be used with its boilers and valves; and failure to warn after it was aware of asbestos hazards.
The First Department also found that the awards in all three cases materially deviated from reasonable compensation with further reductions of $500,000 to $5,650,000. They reduced the total stipulated remitted verdicts for Hackshaw and Sweberg. However, the Peraica reduction was based on the stipulated verdict after the set-offs and represents a $13,750,000 reduction from the total stipulated verdict. The Court noted that the further-reduced awards in Hackshaw and Peraica were significant, and exceeded some precedential amounts, but found that they were supported by the evidence in the record.
Note: General Obligations Law §15-108(a) allows for off-sets of the settlement amounts or corresponding apportioned shares of the settling tortfeasors. This is calculated under an aggregate method where the verdict is reduced by either the total dollar amount paid by settling defendants (e.g. Hackshaw) or the aggregate equitable share apportioned to the settling tortfeasors (e.g. Peraica and Sweberg).