Hutchison v. Combustion Engineering, Inc. and Owens-Illinois, Inc.

Case Summary

Robert Hutchison was diagnosed with mesothelioma in 2000, a fatal cancer of the lining of the lung caused by asbestos exposure. In 1957 Mr. Hutchison worked as an insulators helper at Pacific Gas and Electric power plant in Morro Bay, CA. During that year that Mr. Hutchison worked on the boilers, Combustion Engineering, Inc., a steam boiler manufacturer and maintenance contractor, performed maintenance and supervised the use of asbestos-containing insulation on the inside and outside of the boilers. As a result of the work performed and supervised by Combustion Engineering, Inc., Mr. Hutchison was repeatedly exposed to dust from the asbestos products that were used. Additionally, as an insulators helper, he regularly used Kaylo, an asbestos-containing pipe-insulation manufactured by Owens-Illinois, Inc. He often had to cut the insulation and then sweep the residual dust and scrap from the product. This also caused him to inadvertently inhale more asbestos-containing dust. At trial, the evidence showed that Combustion Engineering, Inc. and Owens-Illinois, Inc. did not warn Mr. Hutchison of any potential health hazards associated with asbestos, nor did they take steps to reduce his asbestos exposure in any manner. The jury found that both Defendants acted negligently and with malice toward Mr. Hutchison. Further, they found that Kaylo pipe insulation was a defective and unreasonably dangerous product.


  • August 21, 2001
  • $11.1 Million
  • -$1,500,000 in compensatory damages to Robert Hutchison
  • -$3,600,000 to Mrs. Hutchison for loss of consortium and loss of household services
  • -$3,000,000 in exemplary damages against Owens-Illinois, Inc.
  • -$3,000,000 in exemplary damages against Combustion Engineering, Inc.
  • The jury found Defendants Owens-Illinois, Inc. and Combustion Engineering, Inc. jointly and severally liable for the damages.
  • The case subsequently settled.

Case Information

Robert I. Hutchison and Joyce Hutchison vs. Combustion Engineering, Inc., and Owens-Illinois, Inc.
Cause No. 18-215


Nolan County, Texas, 32nd Judicial District Court
Hon. Glen Harrison, presiding

Plaintiffs’ Experts

Dr. Arnold Brody, Ph.D., a molecular biologist
Dr. Hector Battifora, M.D., a pathologist
Dr. Richard Lemen, Ph.D., an epidemiologist and former assistant Surgeon General of the United States

Defense Experts

(Owens-Illinois, Inc., only)

Dr. Douglas Fowler, Ph.D, an Industrial Hygienist.
Bill Hazard, former industrial hygienist for Owens-Illinois, Inc.

Combustion Engineering, Inc. did not call any witnesses to testify.

Plaintiff’s Counsel

Waters Kraus & Paul, LLP, in Dallas, Texas
Troyce Wolf
Jeffrey Simon

Kenny Maxwell, PC, Sweetwater, Texas
Kenny Maxwell

Defense Counsel

Spain and Hastings of Houston, Texas (Combustion Engineering, Inc.)
Dan Spain and Jeff Hastings

Baker Botts in Dallas, Texas (Owens- Illinois, Inc.)
Randolph Burns

Morganstein and Jubelirer, LLP, in San Francisco, CA (Owens- Illinois, Inc.)
James Balich

Steakley and Wetsel, Sweetwater, Texas (Owens- Illinois, Inc.)
Zollie Steakley

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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