A jury found that the mesothelioma contracted by James Lester Phillips was caused in part by exposure to asbestos contained in Bendix brakes. In an appeal, Honeywell challenged the $5.8 million awarded to Phillips’s wife and surviving children.
In the published portion of the appellate opinion, the court rejected Honeywell’s claims of evidentiary error, concluding that the trial court properly admitted a 1966 letter of a Bendix employee sarcastically addressing an article in Chemical Week magazine that stated asbestos had been accused, but not yet convicted, of being a significant health hazard.
The court reasoned that the letter was circumstantial evidence relevant to the issue of Bendix’s awareness of asbestos’s potential to cause cancer. The court noted that Illinois and Florida cases holding admission of this letter was prejudicial were distinguishable because they did not include the important limiting instruction to the jury.