On November 18, 2010, an Oakland jury returned a verdict of $5,482,047.54 against RSCC Wire & Cable, Inc. (“RSCC”), the manufacturer and supplier of Rockbestos asbestos insulated wire and cable products. The jury also found that RSCC acted with malice and oppression, requiring an additional phase of the trial to determine a punitive damages amount. Shortly after the second phase of the trial began, the case was resolved to the parties’ mutual satisfaction. (Ronald Merrill Ricker and Suzanna Ricker v. RSCC Wire & Cable, Inc., Case No. RG10496251, Alameda County Superior Court)
Ronald Ricker was exposed to asbestos from Rockbestos asbestos insulated wire products from 1966 to 1971 brought home on the clothing, person and personal effects of his mother, Clara Ricker, when she worked at Varian, Inc. in Napa and Walnut Creek, California. He was also exposed while he worked as a machinist at Varian from 1969 to 1971.
Mr. Ricker was diagnosed with mesothelioma in October 2009. Kazan Law filed suit for the Rickers on January 29, 2010. Trial began on October 25, 2010. Evidence at trial showed that a cause of Mr. Ricker’s mesothelioma was the dangerous levels of asbestos dust released as a result of cutting and stripping RSCC’s Rockbestos asbestos insulated wire products. The evidence also showed that RSCC specialized in asbestos insulated wire and cable products, and even incorporated the word “asbestos” in the name of its brand Rockbestos, but ignored all the medical and scientific information about the health hazards associated with asbestos dust for over 60 years. RSCC continued to sell its Rockbestos asbestos insulated wire products until 1986 and did not warn its customers or end users about asbestos related health hazards until 1979. The jury found that RSCC’s defective design of its asbestos insulated wire products, its failure to adequately warn consumers and customers of the dangers its wire products posed, its negligence and its malicious and oppressive misconduct all contributed to causing Mr. Ricker’s mesothelioma. RSCC was held 33 percent responsible for all the damages caused by Mr. Ricker’s mesothelioma.
Associates William Ruiz and Ian Rivamonte, with the assistance of firm principals Gordon Greenwood and Frank Fernandez, represented Ronald and Suzanna Ricker at trial.