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Los Angeles Jury Awards More Than $5.55 Million To 70 Year Old Navy Veteran

Los Angeles Jury Awards More Than $5.55 Million to 70 Year Old Navy Veteran and Pump Mechanic Exposed to Dust From Asbestos Gaskets and Packing While Working at C&H Sugar in Benicia, California.

Richard Keeney

The Worthington Law Firm and co-counselThe Farrise Law Firm are pleased to report that on January 27, 2012, a Los Angeles, California jury of 6 men and 6 women awarded more than $5,550,000 in favor of their clients Richard Keeney and Howard Garcia. Mr. Keeney declares, “I am utterly amazed at what the two firms have done for me. They both worked really hard.”

Mr. Keeney is a 70 year-old gentleman who served his country in the U.S. Navy from 1958 to 1979, earning five Good Conduct Awards, a National Defense Service Medal, a Vietnam Service Medal, a Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal, an Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal (Korea) and a Navy Unit Commendation. After his retirement from the Navy, Mr. Keeney worked as a pump mechanic at the C&H Sugar plant in Benicia, California from 1976 to 1995.

While working at C&H Sugar, Mr. Keeney was frequently exposed to dust from asbestos gasket and packing materials used with pumps and other machinery at the plant. In January 2011, Mr. Keeney was diagnosed with malignant pleural mesothelioma, a cancer which attacks the linings of the lungs in persons exposed to asbestos. Mr. Keeney has received treatment for his disease at the West Los Angeles VA Medical Center including a lung-sparing pleurectomy/decortication surgery performed by surgical oncologist Robert Cameron, M.D.

In March 2011, the Worthington and Farrise firms filed a lawsuit on behalf of Mr. Keeney and his domestic partner against over 45 defendants. Pre-trial settlements were reached with many defendants. On December 12, 2011, the case proceeded to trial against John Crane, Inc., a company whichmanufactured and/or sold more than 300 different asbestos containing gasket and packing styles from 1917 through at least 1985.

Trial lasted approximately 4 weeks. Attorneys Simona A. Farrise and Carlos Guzman lead the effort for plaintiffs. After deliberating for 14 days, the jury awarded damages of more than $5,550,000 in favor of Mr. Keeney and Mr. Garcia. The jury found John Crane, Inc. 12% negligent and strictly liable for its asbestos gasket and packing materials that Mr. Keeney worked with for approximately 15 years. According to Mr. Keeney, he states “I don’t want to put a value on someone’s life, but I think what the jury and the court decided is fair.”

Mr. Keeney is glad that the case has finally come to an end and states that he’s been amazed by the process and what his legal team has been able to do for him. He states that he was “…flabbergasted by the defense tactics of deflecting blame even when confronted with the facts. It boggled my mind and was hard for an ill person like myself to tolerate day after day.” He is grateful for the dogged representation of his attorneys, especially Simona Farrise, whom he describes as “ferocious” and “relentless” in her fight for his rights

Mr. Keeney will now return his focus to fighting his disease with the assistance of Dr. Robert Cameron. A new spot was recently found in his pleural cavity which will soon be biopsied. If the growth is malignant, Dr. is recommending cryoablation, a new minimally invasive procedure which uses controlled freezing to dissipate small tumors. Mr. Keeney describes Dr. Cameron as “incredibly well-informed and absolutely wonderful” and states that it is a constant “relief to know that I am in the right hands.”

Rick's honorable
discharge from the
U.S. Navy, 1979

When things settle down, Mr. Keeney and his domestic partner, Mr. Garcia, to whom the jury awarded damages for loss of consortium, are looking forward to traveling to Washington D.C. where he plans to re-visit the Vietnam Veterans Memorial and the United States Navy Memorial. “Having the opportunity to take this much awaited trip confirms for me how great it is to be an American. I'm grateful to have had access to outstanding medical and legal talent.”

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