On October 26, 2018, CMBG3 won on its appeal from a $1.6M verdict in a living mesothelioma case venued in Alameda County, California. In a 16-page opinion, the California Appellate Court found that the only evidence presented at trial against CMBG3’s client was inadmissible hearsay.
The underlying trial lasted 17 days and involved a 63-year-old laborer who installed asbestos-cement pipe on a job in northern California. The job lasted for six months between 1976 and 1977 and involved thousands of feet of asbestos pipe. CMBG3’s client was an industrial supplier alleged to have sold the pipe that plaintiff installed.
The only identification evidence against the supplier was testimony from plaintiff’s foreman, who claimed that he knew the supplier from invoices he signed at the jobsite 40 years ago. None of the invoices described by the foreman were ever produced. The trial court overruled CMBG3’s motion to exclude the foreman’s testimony before the presentation of evidence.
On appeal, CMBG3 contended that the foreman’s testimony was inadmissible hearsay because the invoices upon which he based his testimony were not authenticated, let alone available. The appellate court agreed, saying the trial judge should have excluded the testimony because all related documents had long been lost or destroyed. The appellate court noted that the foreman was only able to identify the supplier based on his review of the non-existent invoices and held, “Critically, he lacked personal knowledge of who the supplier was. His testimony was inadmissible for this reason.”
The appeals court further rejected the trial judge’s decision to allow testimony from the foreman identifying the supplier’s logo on the invoices. The appellate court held that this testimony was also offered for the truth of the matter asserted, making the foreman’s testimony about the supplier’s logo inadmissible hearsay.
CMBG3 appealed on two additional grounds that were not addressed by the appellate court because the hearsay issue mandated a complete reversal. The underlying case was tried by CMBG3 attorneys Joseph Gunter and Haley Hansen. CMBG3’s appellate team was Joseph Gunter, Gilliam Stewart, Christine Calareso and Eric Robbie. Please feel free to contact us for any additional information.