Civil Plaintiff

Family of Man That Died of Mesothelioma After Exposure to Asbestos Is Awarded $40,750,000

On August 30, 2023, a  unanimous jury returned a verdict of $40,750,000 on behalf of Bruce Torgerson and his family in Cook County, Illinois, against the only defendant, John Crane, before the Honorable Judge Bridget Mitchell.

Plaintiff Annette Beneville, the daughter of the decedent Bruce Torgerson, claimed that Bruce Torgerson developed malignant pleural mesothelioma as a result of his exposure to asbestos from John Crane Inc. asbestos-containing gaskets and packing. Plaintiff claimed that his exposure to John Crane Inc.’s asbestos-containing packing and gaskets was a substantial factor in causing his mesothelioma. Defendant John Crane Inc. denied Plaintiff’s allegations and alleged that the sole cause of Mr. Torgerson’s mesothelioma was his exposure to asbestos-containing thermal insulation.

The case was tried for the plaintiff by lead trial counsel Scott L. Frost and Jill Rakauski of the Frost Law Firm PC out of San Pedro, California, along with local counsel attorneys Wyatt Berkover and Nicholas Vogelzang from the Vogelzang Law Firm in Chicago.

Defendant John Crane Inc. was represented by Mark I. Tivin of Manning Gross + Massenburg LLP, William Swallow of Clyde & Co., and Nora Gierke of Gierke Law LLC.

Bruce Torgerson was a “pump man” who testified to using John Crane asbestos-containing gaskets and packing across the United States throughout his working career. The case was originally filed in CA, then NY, and after the defendant threatened personal jurisdiction motions in both venues, plaintiffs re-filed in Cook County, the headquarters of John Crane.

Bruce had mesothelioma and suffered for 1.5 years before succumbing to the disease in December of 2019.  He left behind his wife Annette Beneville, with Alzheimer’s disease, and their two children.

John Crane asserted the “chrysotile defense” stating that chrysotile asbestos did not contribute to Mr. Torgerson’s disease and that it was, in fact, from the amphibole asbestos found in pipe covering.  In addition, John Crane asserted that any friable asbestos from their gaskets and packing would have been below the permissible exposure limits and that Mr. Torgerson wasn’t around asbestos-containing John Crane gaskets and packing.  Mr. Frost commented “this is a great day for the family to finally get justice against John Crane.”  

Experts for the plaintiff were Dr. Marty Kanarek from UW Madison School of Medicine and Public Health,
Ms. Susan Raterman, The Raterman Group Ltd.,  Certified industrial hygienist Andrew Brodkin MD, specializing in occupational and environmental medicine from University of Washington,
Dr. David Zhang a pathologist from New York, and Arnold Brody, PhD. a cellular biologist from Tulane University School of Medicine.

Plaintiff presented Mr. Torgerson’s testimony through video posthumously and portions of the transcript were read into the record. John Crane called John Henshaw Certified Industrial Hygienist, Sanibel Island FL, Donna Ringo, Certified Industrial Hygienist, Louisville, KY, Dr. Allan Feingold a pulmonologist from Miami FL and John Crane corporate representative George Springs.

The jury of 12 deliberated and unanimously awarded a total of $40,750,000. The award was broken down as follows:  
Bruce Torgerson — Loss of a normal life – $11,250,000, Conscious pain and suffering – $13,500,000, emotional distress – $5,250,000.  
Beverly Torgerson — Loss of services – $4,000,000, Loss of society – $3,600,000, Grief, sorrow and mental suffering – $1,000,000.  
Rodney Torgerson and Annette Beneville:  Loss of services – $800,000, Loss of Society $800,000, Grief, sorrow, and mental suffering $550,000 for a total amount of $40,750,000.

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