POWELL v. MERCK & CO., INC., BAC PRITCHARD, INC. , U.S. FILTER, MONTE HAMAMOTO, BILL CADDEN, TED METZGER

Gregory Scott Mason

Case Conclusion Date:May 5, 2006

Practice Area:Personal Injury

Outcome:Defense Verdict as to Negligence (12-0)

Description:13 DAY JURY TRIAL TO VERDICT: Defendants, U.S. Filter Corporation, Monte Hamamoto, an individual, Bill Cadden, an individual represented by Gregory S. Mason of McCormick, Barstow LLP, Fresno, California. Mr. Powell, an electrician, alleged that he suffered chronic exposure to hexavalent chromium, copper and arsenic, or chromated copper arsenate (CCA), while working at a groundwater remediation site owned by Merck & Co. A Merck & Co. contractor hired Mr. Powell to perform electrical work in a restricted area of the site in 1993 -1994 and 1996, for which plaintiffs alleged Merck & Co. was negligent in controlling the toxic heavy metals during this timeframe. Mr. Powell performed work at the site for US Filter Corporation (the operations and maintenance contractor for Merck & Co.) on a time and materials basis from 1994 to 2000, for which plaintiffs alleged US Filters placed Mr. Powell in direct contact with the toxic heavy metals on a continuous basis without taking measures to ensure Mr. Powell's safety. Plaintiffs also contended that US Filter Corporation misrepresented that the areas in which Mr. Powell worked were not contaminated and moreover, that US Filter Corporation concealed from Mr. Powell the potential for contamination while working at the site. In April 2000, Mr. Powell allegedly became ill due to the alleged heavy metal exposure. Plaintiffs alleged that blood tests revealed elevated chromium and copper levels consistent with the alleged exposure. Mr. Powell contended that he suffered a series of transient ischemic attacks, debilitating lifelong abdominal discomfort, left-sided weakness, decreased cognitive abilities, sexual dysfunction, fatigue and depression due to the alleged exposure. Mr. Powell also claimed he was completely disabled due to the alleged heavy metal poisoning. Plaintiffs' economist valued Mr. Powell's wage and medical losses at $1,200,000. Mrs. Powell contended that she suffered a loss of consortium. DEFENDANT(S) CONTENTION(S) AS TO LIABILITY: Defendants contended that the site was constructed, operated and maintained in conformity with all applicable government regulations and industry standards. Defendants also contended that medical expert testimony established that Mr. Powell's complaints were not consistent with the known symptomatology of exposure to hexavalent chromium, copper or arsenic. SETTLEMENT TALKS: DEMAND: Plaintiffs’ demand at settlement conference - $5,700,000.00 Plaintiffs’ suggested award to jury - $6,200,000.00 OFFER: Merck & Co., et al. - $25,000.00 U.S. Filter Corporation, et al. - $25,000.00