The Bankhead v. Allied Supply asbestos mesothelioma trial returned to session Wednesday to consider awarding punitive damage against Pneumo Abex and ArvinMeritor.
In his opening statement, Joe Satterley of Sales & Satterley reminded the jury that Gordon Bankhead was going to die of mesothelioma, and that the reasonable relationship between the harm to Mr. Bankhead and the behavior of the defendants would guide their consideration of a punitive damages award, and not just an assessment of the hundreds of millions of dollars that the defendant corporations might be worth.
In his opening statement on behalf of Pneumo Abex, John Brydon of Brydon Hugo & Parker told the jury that Pneumo Abex stopped making asbestos brakes in 1987, almost a quarter century ago, and in 1994 stopped making brakes altogether. Today, Pneumo Abex makes no products, and is a non-operating subsidiary that only exists to respond to and satisfy damage claims through indemnification agreements, and as an entity itself has no financial worth.
In his opening statement on behalf of ArvinMeritor, McKenna Long's John Berfield told the jury that they would hear undisputed evidence that ArvinMerritor has been "weathering a period of financial challenge," and disagreed with Mr. Satterley's suggestion that Arvin Merritor had hundreds of millions of dollars to pay an award. Last year, said Mr. Berfield, was the first year in the past five that ArvinMeritor had made a profit.
Forensic economist expert witness Robert Johnson explained to the jury that businesses can lose money for years and still be financially viable, like Boeing, and that even very successful companies sometimes do not pay dividends, like Apple or Google.