Water Heater Parts Supplier Prevails at Trial Over Plumber's Cancer Death

Posted by Arlin Crisco on Sep 20, 2021 11:40:01 AM


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Columbia, SC— Jurors Thursday cleared heating materials supplier Chromalox, Inc. of responsibility for the mesothelioma death of a South Carolina plumber. Manning v. Chromalox, Inc., 2020-CP-40-01293.

Rabon Manning died from mesothelioma, a cancer of the lung lining caused by asbestos exposure, in 2018. Manning’s son, Dennis, contends his father’s years of work with hot water heater gaskets that contained asbestos caused his father's death. 

But a Richland County, South Carolina jury deliberated about four hours before finding in favor of Chromalox, which Manning had claimed was responsible for the hot water heater gaskets his father worked on. 

As is the case with many asbestos claims, where exposure occurs decades before mesothelioma is diagnosed, the four-day trial focused in part on whether there was any connection between Chromalox's parts and Rabon Manning’s disease.


During Thursday’s closings, Dennis Manning’s attorney, Christopher Swett of Motley Rice, highlighted a list of locations where Rabon Manning worked on Chromalox-brand hot water heater parts, and he noted that Dennis Manning remembered his father working on the Chromalox-branded parts for years.  

Swett also highlighted documents he said showed that all Chromalox gaskets contained asbestos during the years at issue.  

“There’s ample testimony of work on asbestos-containing products at issue in this case and for which defendant is liable in this case,” Swett said.

However, Womble Bond Dickinson’s Elizabeth O’Neill, representing Chromalox, challenged the credibility of Dennis Manning’s recollection. She reminded jurors of his young age during the time at issue, while noting his older brother and mother, who she said were in better position to recall, did not testify at trial. 

“This is stuff that happened 40, 50 years ago, and you’re a little kid. You’re riding your bike, you’re playing baseball,” O’Neill said. “You’re not thinking ‘Hey, I’ve got to make sure I remember what’s on this box.'”

CVN has reached out to the attorneys involved and will update this article with their comments. 

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Topics: Products Liability, Asbestos, Georgia, Manning v. Gould Pumps Incorporated