Orrick Team Engineers Reversal of $100+ Million Judgment Against Union Carbide

2 minute read | December.14.2023

  • Siding with our legal arguments, a Los Angeles Superior Court judge has overturned a massive judgment against Union Carbide and two co-defendant companies in a case involving wrongful death claims related to alleged asbestos exposure.
  • A jury this summer awarded more than $100 million to the family of a janitor who worked at an office park decades ago and claimed to be exposed to asbestos on the job. Union Carbide was found liable for the majority of the judgment, including $75 million in punitive damages.
  • An Orrick team was enlisted to lead post-trial motions for Union Carbide, crafting arguments that the trial was tainted by numerous flaws. The court agreed with our arguments on the majority of issues, granting Union Carbide judgment as a matter of law of no liability on two different grounds and also granting on punitive damages. The court found, among other things, that pervasive attorney misconduct and juror misconduct tainted the trial.

    Orrick wiped out the jury’s liability findings by demonstrating that no evidence at trial established that the decedent had ever been exposed to asbestos actually produced by Union Carbide—or therefore that Union Carbide asbestos had been a substantial factor in causing the decedent harm.

  • The Court similarly agreed that the evidence presented at trial could not support a punitive damages award because the plaintiffs failed to identify a single “officer, director, or managing agent” at Union Carbide who engaged in acts of malice, as the California statute authorizing punitive damages requires.

Litigation Daily recognized the win in its Litigators of the Week feature.

The Orrick team was led by partners Andrew Silverman and Eric Shumsky, members of our Supreme Court and Appellate practice, and included partner Josh Rosenkranz and associates Amari Hammonds, Emily Villano and Anne Savin. Hawkins, Parnell & Young and DeHay and Elliston represented the co-defendants.