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Rockwell Automation Wins Unanimous Defense Verdict in Miami-Dade County Living Mesothelioma Case

March 2013
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Tucker Ellis LLP scored a major victory on behalf of its client Rockwell Automation on February 22 when a Florida jury in Miami-Dade County returned a defense verdict in a living mesothelioma trial.

The trial team consisted of Tucker Ellis attorneys Knight Anderson and Nicole Braden Lewis, joined by Marcia Davis of the Bice Cole firm in Florida. The plaintiffs, Alan and Patricia Hantak, had asked for $20 million in total damages. Judge Victoria S. Sigler presided over the three-week trial. Five defendants started trial on February 4 and at the trial’s conclusion, Rockwell Automation was the only defendant remaining. Following closing arguments, the six-woman jury returned its verdict in just 75 minutes. The case was Judge Sigler’s first asbestos trial.

Alan Hantak was a career electrician who recalled working with Rockwell Automation’s electrical control products. Plaintiffs presented two claims—negligence and strict product liability—and called four expert witnesses. Tucker Ellis called one witness, and convinced the jury that the science did not prove that Rockwell Automation products caused Hantak’s disease.

“Friday’s victory for the Rockwell team is the culmination of years of preparation, excellent litigation and trial strategy, and just plain hard work,” said Jeffrey Healy, Chair of the Tucker Ellis Mass Tort & Product Liability Practice Group. “Those of us who practice in this area know how difficult it is to win living mesothelioma cases anywhere, much less in places like Miami-Dade County. Our success is due to the collaboration between Tucker Ellis, local counsel, and Rockwell Automation, our combined dedication to defending the claims and products, and our commitment to seeing the case through to the deserved defense verdict.”

Gary Ballesteros, Vice President of Law for Rockwell Automation, added, “It has always been our position that these claims against our products lack any merit. When we have the opportunity to prove our defenses at trial, we will.”

In addition to this win, Tucker Ellis attorneys regularly try cases on both coasts and throughout the Midwest.

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