The Gordon Bankhead v. Allied Packing & Supply mesothelioma asbestos trial began today in Oakland, California, before Hon. Judge Robert B. Freedman.
Plaintiff attorney Joe Satterley, of Sales & Satterley, told the jury that Gordon Bankhead was a 67-year old parts worker who contracted mesothelioma as a result of exposure to "a huge dose" of chrysotile asbestos dust when working with heavy duty truck brakes, especially when unpacking the brakes, at the Port of Oakland's Sea-land Terminal. Mr. Bankhead also occasionally would deliver parts to a ship.
According to Mr. Satterlee, defendants Pneumo Abex, ArvinMeritor, Kelsey-Hayes (Fruehauf), Carlisle, and Rockwell sold a defective product, failed to warn about the dangers of the product, and caused Mr. Bankhead's mesothelioma.
Mr. Satterley showed the jury secret studies allegedly showing that the defendants knew of but concealed the hazards associated with asbestos exposure. According to Mr. Satterley, the defendants chose not to warn, and they could have delivered non-asbestos-containing brakes, but they did not because the asbestos-free brakes were more expensive.
Defendant Pneumo Abex, represented by John R. Brydon, of Brydon Hugo & Parker, claimed that Pneumo Abex did not cause or contribute to Mr. Bankhead's illness -- "Not a little, not a lot, not at all." According to Mr. Brydon, Mr. Bankhead was not a mechanic, but a parts man, with an office, with limited exposure to asbestos. However, Mr. Bankhead did board the container ships at the Sealand Terminal, and had exposures to non-brake, non-chrysotile asbestos fibers that Mr. Brydon asserted were more likely to have caused mesothelioma, which Mr. Bankhead had, as opposed to lung cancer and asbestosis, which Mr. Bankhead did not have. The type of asbestos matters, said Mr. Brydon, and chrysotile fibers do not cause an increased risk of mesothelioma.
Opening statements will continue tomorrow.