Finch v. Covil Corp., No. 19-1594 (4th Cir. 2020)Annotate this Case
Plaintiff filed a wrongful death action on behalf of herself and the estate of her late husband, alleging that defendants manufactured, installed, or supplied asbestos-containing products that caused his mesothelioma and resulting death. After the jury found Covil liable and awarded plaintiff $32.7 million in compensatory damages, Covil appealed.
The Fourth Circuit affirmed, holding that the district court did not abuse its discretion by instructing the jury as to proximate cause. In this case, the district court's detailed instruction on substantial factor causation gave proper guidance to the jury to determine whether Covil's insulation constituted a substantial factor in the husband's mesothelioma, and it embodies the "general principles of law" set forth by Lohrmann v. Pittsburgh Corning Corp., 782 F.2d 1156, 1162 (4th Cir. 1986). The court also held that the district court did not abuse its discretion by refusing to reduce the award where Covil waived its federal law argument; the district court did not abuse its discretion in determining that the verdict was not excessive as a matter of law; and without evidence of passion or prejudice, the court cannot replace the jury's considered judgment with its own, or with an amount that Covil would prefer.