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February 2020

Daily Journal Recognizes Gordon & Rees Defense Win Among Top 20 Verdicts in 2019

The Daily Journal has named Gordon Rees Scully Mansukhani among the top 20 defense verdicts in California for 2019. The publication’s annual list highlights the largest and most significant verdicts and appellate reversals in the state in 2019. Among those profiled was a defense verdict obtained by partners Bob Rich and Robert Rodriguez on behalf of Hennessy Industries.

In the matter, Morton et al. v. 3M Company a/k/a Minnesota Mining & Manufacturing Co., Hennessy Industries et al, the plaintiff sought to hold Hennessy and Pneumo Abex Corp. liable for his stage IV lung cancer which he alleged was caused by his use of AMMCO’s brake grinder in the 1960s. The plaintiffs sought in excess of $5 million in economic and non-economic damages, plus punitive damages.

The plaintiffs argued that in the 1960s most passenger vehicle brakes contained asbestos, and that the medical and scientific community was well aware of the hazards associated with grinding such brakes. They further argued that AMMCO was effectively put on notice of such hazards and at a minimum should have warned its customers of the dangers associated with asbestos.

Rich and Rodriguez argued that the Plaintiff’s lung cancer was the result of a genetic condition, for which he tested positive. Further, they argued that AMMCO acted prudently throughout the relevant time period and maintained that the Plaintiff’s limited asbestos exposure from brakes was insufficient to increase his risk of developing lung cancer. After a seven-week jury trial, a defense verdict was rendered.

Rich, partner in the firm’s San Francisco and Oakland offices, focuses his practice on toxic tort litigation. He has tried more than 30 mesothelioma cases to verdict in California and throughout the country, and achieved defense verdicts in almost every case he has tried. He was honored by Owens Corning Fiberglass Corporation – the target defendant in the asbestos litigation – when he was given the "Star" award for the attorney with the best trial record in the country.

Rodriguez, senior counsel in the firm’s San Diego office, focuses his practice on product liability lawsuits in both state and federal court.

The firm congratulates Rich and Rodriguez for this prestigious recognition.

Robert A. Rich
Robert C. Rodriguez