Hirschberg vs. Alfa Laval, Inc., et al
Mattison vs. Alfa Laval, Inc., et al
Sorey vs. Alfa Laval, Inc., et al


Phase I – April 8, 2009
Phase II – April 17, 2009
Hirschberg $6.0M
Mattison $4.0M
Sorey $4.0M
*The Mattison case proceeded to a Phase II Liability bench trial, where John Crane Inc. – the lone remaining defendant of the original eight – was found responsible for plaintiff’s illness due to defective products, and apportioned a prorated 1/8 (12.5%) liability.

Case Information

Cause No. 002591 Hirschberg vs. Alfa Laval, Inc., et al
Cause No. 003607 Mattison vs. Alfa Laval, Inc., et al
Cause No. 004509 Sorey vs. Alfa Laval, Inc., et al
Trial length
Phase I – 1 week
Phase II (Mattison only) – 1 week


The verdict amounts are significant given the nature of the reverse bifurcated trial, where Phase I determines only whether the plaintiff’s illness was caused by asbestos exposure. The defendants – and assessment of what they knew, when they knew, and their failure to act – are not known to the jury until latter phases.


Philadelphia County, Pa., Court of Common Pleas
Hon. Victor J. DiNublie, Jr., presiding

Plaintiff’s Experts (live testimony)

Joseph S. Friedberg, M.D., attending physcian for all plaintiff’s
Steven Markowitz, M.D., occupational medicine

Defense Experts (live testimony)

Michael J. Matteson, Ph.D., aerosol technology expert
Michael Graham, M.D., pathologist

Plaintiffs’ Counsel

Waters Kraus & Paul, LLP (Dallas, Baltimore):
Troyce G. Wolf (lead),
Demetrios T. Zacharopoulos
Shein Law Center, LTD (Phila.):
Benjamin P. Shein (lead)
Bethann Schaffzin

Defense Counsel

(John Crane) O’Connell Miller Tivin & Burns (Elgin, Ill)
John Thomas Burns

Case Summaries

Robert G. Hirschberg, served in the U.S. Navy as a fireman/boiler tender from 1961-1964, during which he performed maintenance on and around asbestos-insulated pipes, valves, lagging, gaskets, pumps, oil purifiers and boilers in the forward-engine rooms of the USS Bigelow and USS Dixie docked in the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard. He was diagnosed with malignant pleural mesothelioma in August 2007 and died five months later at the age of 64. He testified posthumously by video deposition to his daily exposure to asbestos and asbestos dust aboad Navy vessels. Mr. Hirschberg clearly identified these products and brands by name. He also recalled breathing “massive” amounts of dust while cutting and removcing insulation – insulation that the Navy had identified as containing asbestos during training.

Robert Mattison is a 76-year-old navy veteran (1950-1954) who served aboard the USS Salamonie and USS Allagash as a machinits’s mate at the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard. He later served for 14 years with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers as a marine oiler aboard seagoing dredges, and then for a decade as a civilian boiler operator at the shipyard until his retirement in 1987. He testified by video deposition to the specific products he worked with over 26 years, and how his work put him in close and frequent proximity to asbestos-containing valves, pumps, gaskets, steam traps and insulation. Diagnosed with malignant pleural mesothelioma in october 2007, the widower has had to give up his volunteer work with at-risk youth, and was too ill to atend trial.

Walter “Mike” Sorey was a marine machinist in the tool shop at the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard from 1969-1987. He worked daily around asbestos-containing diamond-grinding tools while he repaired valve bodies and pump stuffing boxes. He was diagnosed with mesothelioma in November 2007, and died in June 2008 before being deposed. A supervisor who worked with Mr. Sorey testified to Mr. Sorey’s daily exposure to asbestos-based products over his 18-year career at the shipyard. Although Mr. Sorey was a Navy veteran, the case focused on his civillian career as a toolmaker in the Naval Shipyard’s “06 Shop.”

Disclaimer – Results obtained depend on the facts of each case. Award amounts are not actual cash amounts received by plaintiffs. Deductions are made for liens, attorney fees and expenses.

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