Union Carbide wants jury verdict tossed

Published 12:51 pm Thursday, May 19, 2011

Union Carbide Corp. has asked a Mississippi judge to throw out a $322 million asbestos verdict and, at the same time, remove himself from presiding over the case any longer.

In a motion filed Tuesday, attorneys for Union Carbide said Circuit Judge Eddie H. Bowen neglected to notify defense lawyers that his parents had been involved in similar asbestos litigation and had settled a case against Union Carbide.

On May 4, a jury awarded $300 million in punitive damages and $22 million in actual damages to Thomas C. Brown who claimed he inhaled asbestos dust while mixing drilling mud sold and manufactured by Chevron Phillips Chemical Co. and Union Carbide.

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The jury award is expected to be appealed to the Mississippi Supreme Court.

Allen Hosselly, a Dallas attorney who represented Brown, did not immediately return a telephone call seeking comment.

After the May 4 verdict, Hossley said the jury found the companies liable for defectively designing their product and failing to provide an adequate warning to workers. He said Brown has asbestosis and requires oxygen 24 hours a day.

In a statement released Wednesday, Union Carbide said Bowen made “offhand comments” during the trial about how his father might have been exposed to asbestos at Ingalls Shipyard in Pascagoula. Union Carbide said it Howard J. Bowen, identified as the judge’s father, had sued Union Carbide and others in 1989 and 1992.

Bowen, according to the motion, was a practicing attorney when his father and mother sued Union Carbide seeking $1 million for emotional distress, and at least one case is still outstanding. Union Carbide settled with the elder Bowens.