Saffold V. Bondex

Case Fact Sheet

Warner Bros. Craft Services Laborer Was Exposed to Joint Compound Dust on Film Production Sets

Case Summary

62-year-old Ronald Saffold was employed as a craft services laborer at Warner Bros. from 1971 until he was diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma in 2004 – just 3 months short of retirement. He died in December 2005. Saffold testified via video depostition that during the final 12 years of his career, he cleaned up after crews who built or tore down sets. This put him in the vicinity where joint compound was mixed, molded, applied and sanded, which created dust prarticles in the air. Cleanup also generated clouds of dust that he regularly inhaled. The defense argued that the chrysotile asbestos in joint compound does not cause mesothelioma, and also denied their products were present at the locations Saffold recalled. The jury assessed responsibility to all remaining defendants in the case for defective product design, failure to warn, and negligence.


June 20, 2008
$5.4M total award:
$400k in economic damages
$5.0M for loss of care, comfort, society
Liability: Bondex 26%, Kaiser Gypsum 26%, Dowman 23%


Plaintiff’s verdict in a bystander asbestos exposure case
Jury rejected argument that “smaller” amounts of chrysotile asbestos are not sufficient to cause mesothelioma
Jury assigned relatively high liability percentages for each defendant
Defendants claimed that other joint compounds identified by Saffold were also responsible for his mesothelioma, but they failed to prove the other manufacturers were at fault.

Case Information

Cause No. BC 341 492
Saffold v. Bondex, et. al.
Trial length: 71 day Deliberation: 5 days


Los Angeles County, Calif., Superior Court, Dept. 316
Hon. Ricardo A. Torres, presiding

Plaintiff’s Experts (live testimony)

Arnold Brody, M.D., cell biologist
Carl Brodkin, M.D., M.P.H., occupational medicine physician

Defense Experts (live testimony)

Allen R. Gibbs, M.D., pathologist
William G. Hughson, M.D., pulmonologist
Arthur Langer, PhD, mineralogist

Plaintiff’s Counsel

Waters Kraus & Paul, LLP (Los Angeles)
Gary M. Paul (lead)
Dimitri N. Nichols

Defense Counsel

Bondex: Walsworth Franklin Bevins & McCall (Orange, Calif.)
Stephen Nichols

Kaiser Gypsum: Hassard Bonnington (SF)
John Katerndahl

Dowman: Walsworth Franklin Bevins & McCall (Orange, Calif.)
Karen Agelson
Heather Nicolett

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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