Koeberle v. John Crane, Inc.

Case Summary

John Koeberle is a 79-year-old man who resides in Coatesville, Pennsylvania, with his wife, Margaret. Mr. Koeberle served in the U.S. Navy from 1948-1957, working aboard the USS Salinan, the USS Cony, and the USS Harveson and at the fleet boat pool in Norfolk, Virginia. During both sea and shore duty, Mr. Koeberle was responsible for the maintenance of diesel engines, valves, and pumps involving the use of gasket and packing materials containing asbestos. Mr. Koeberle was diagnosed with malignant plural mesothelioma in April 2009 and is currently undergoing chemotherapy treatments for his mesothelioma. Mr. Koeberle’s testimony included detailed descriptions of his maintenance duties, which included scraping and brushing the material to remove it from the metal, producing “very dusty” conditions, which he breathed. Mr. Koeberle identified John Crane, Inc. by name as a manufacturer of asbestos-containing gasket materials he used during his Navy tenure.


Phase I – February 19, 2010; Phase II – June 10, 2010
$4.5 million awarded by jury as follows: $3 million to John Koeberle under the Survival Act; $1.5 million to Margaret Koeberle for loss of consortium
*The case proceeded to a Phase II liability bench trial, where John Crane, Inc. – the lone remaining manufacturer of seven original defendants – was found responsible for the plaintiff’s illness, and apportioned a prorated 1/7 (14.3%) liability.


The plaintiff lived to see the outcome of the trial – a rare occurrence since most mesothelioma patients die with six to 18 months of diagnosis.
The nature of the reverse bifurcated trial makes the $4.5 million verdict quite notable, since Phase I dealt only with the question of whether the plaintiff’s illness was caused by asbestos exposure. the defendants and their role in the case are not discussed until latter phases.

Case Information

Cause No. 000887
Koeberle v. John Crane, Inc.
Trial length: Phase I – 9 days Phase II – 3 days


Philadelphia County, PA., Court of Common Pleas
Hon. Sheldon C. Jelin, presiding

Plaintiff’s Experts (live testimony)

Daniel Sterman, M.D., pulmonologist
Gordon Yu, M.D., cytologist, University of Pennsylvania
Stephen Markowitz, M.D., occupational medicine

Defense Experts (*live testimony; **video deposition)

*Thomas McCaffrey, Naval/maritime historian
*Peter Barrett, radiologist
*Michael J. Matteson, Ph.D., aerosol technology expert
**Frederick Toca, Certified Industrial Hygienist

Plaintiff’s Counsel

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

Defense Counsel

O’Connell, Tivin, Miller & Burns, LLC (Elgin, Ill):
Ben Pucci (lead)
Dickie, McCamey & Chilcote (Phila.):
William Adams

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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