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HeplerBroom Defense Verdict in Madison County Asbestos Trial

Jeff Hebrank and Brian Huelsmann, HeplerBroom partners, obtained a defense verdict in the first asbestos case tried to verdict in Madison County since 2010.  James Reef, who was represented by Flint & Associates, alleged that he contracted pleural mesothelioma while employed with various contractors as a career carpenter.  Mr. Reef testified that 50% of his work from 1958 to 1988 was drywall work using only Georgia-Pacific joint compound that he purchased from a Georgia-Pacific distribution center in his hometown in Wichita, Kansas.

Georgia-Pacific argued that the Plaintiff misidentified their asbestos containing joint compound and had no corroborating evidence to support his claims.  Defendant also argued that chrysotile asbestos does not cause mesothelioma.  Testifying on behalf of Reef were Steven Godfrey, pathologist, and Thomas Selders, industrial hygienist.  Testifying on behalf of Georgia-Pacific were Dr. Mark Roberts, epidemiologist, Robert Adams, certified industrial hygienist, Dr. Arthur Sippo, occupational medicine and Dr. Charles Weaver, memory expert.

Prior to trial, Judge Harrison denied Georgia-Pacific’s Motion to Dismiss based on forum non conveniens which would have been appealed had the jury not returned a defense verdict. Judge Stobbs, recently appointed to the Madison County asbestos docket, presided over the two week trial. Judge Stobbs applied Kansas substantive law on issues relating to compensatory and punitive damages.