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Georgia-Pacific Hit With $9 Million Asbestos Verdict

Mar 15, 2005 | Atlanta Business Chronicle

A Dallas, Texas, jury has awarded $9.3 million to the family of an East Texas man who died from a cancer caused by exposure to asbestos fibers as a child.

Attorneys for the family of Timothy Shawn Bostic argued the man was exposed to asbestos while working with his father as a child and teenager in the 1960s and 1970s. Witnesses testified Bostic frequently worked with a joint compound that contained asbestos and was made by Atlanta-based Georgia-Pacific Corp. The jury late March 14 found Georgia-Pacific negligent for failing to warn Bostic about the asbestos dangers in its joint compound and awarded Bostic's family $3.1 million in compensatory damages and $6.2 million in punitive damages. Texas law requires a cap on punitive damages. However, that cap is set specifically in each case.

Georgia-Pacific will appeal.

"We believe the evidence showed the Georgia-Pacific product did not cause Mr. Bostic's illness and the trial court erred in several significant rulings, which we will pursue on appeal," said Robin Keegan, Georgia-Pacific spokesperson.

Georgia-Pacific has been battling asbestos litigation for years. It recently reported to the Securities and Exchange Commission that the number of asbestos claims filed against it continued to decline in 2004, even as the amount of money it paid on claims hit the $200 million mark. At the end of 2004, there were 59,700 pending claims, down from 64,300 at the end of 2003. During 2004, 26,500 new claims were filed against the company, down from 39,000 new claims filed in 2003.

Court documents showed Georgia-Pacific officials knew about the health dangers of asbestos as early as 1967 but continued to sell products that contained asbestos as late as 1977. In 2003, Bostic was diagnosed with mesothelioma, a rare form of cancer caused by asbestos exposure. He died later that year at the age of 41.

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