Wrongful death due to mesothelioma. $8.87M. Los Angeles County.


Plaintiff was exposed to asbestos while working for the City of Newport Beach, where he was in close proximity to workers cutting asbestos cement pipe in the 1980s.

The Case

  • Case Name: John Dennis Metzger v. J-M Manufacturing Company, Inc. and George Dakovich & Son, Inc.
  • Court and Case Number: Los Angeles Superior Court / 19STCV27717
  • Date of Verdict or Judgment: Monday, June 26, 2023
  • Date Action was Filed: Thursday, August 08, 2019
  • Type of Case: Asbestos, Products Liability, Strict Liability, Wrongful Death
  • Judge or Arbitrator(s): Hon. Lawrence Cho
  • Plaintiffs:
    John Dennis Metzger
    Gail Metzger
    Desiree Flaws
  • Defendants:
    J-M Manufacturing Company, Inc.
    George Dakovich & Son, Inc.
  • Type of Result: Jury Verdict

The Result

  • Gross Verdict or Award: $8,874,741
  • Award as to each Defendant:

    $2,530,159 as to George Dakovich & Son, Inc.

    $2,530,159 as to J-M Manufacturing, Inc.

  • Contributory/Comparative Negligence: 27% fault allocated by the jury to a third party.
  • Economic Damages:

    Medical expenses: $270,000

    Lost income: $376,378

    Lost household services: $228,363

  • Non-Economic Damages:


  • Trial or Arbitration Time: 6 weeks
  • Jury Deliberation Time: 2 days
  • Jury Polls: 9-3
  • Post Trial Motions & Post-Verdict Settlements: Defendants will also be bringing post-trial motions for a new trial, and, if necessary appeals based on jury misconduct and errors of law.

The Attorneys

  • Attorney for the Plaintiff:

    DeBlase Brown Eyerly LLP by Patrick DeBlase and Aileen Huang, Los Angeles.

    Heubeck Law, P.C. by John Heubeck, El Segundo.

    Vieira Trial Law by Campbell Filmer, Westlake Village.

  • Attorney for the Defendant:

    Gordon & Rees by John Katerndahl, Irvine.

    Manning, Gross + Massenburg by Todd Suddleson, Dallas, TX.

The Experts

  • Plaintiff’s Medical Expert(s):

    Richard Lemen, Ph.D., epidemiology, Canton, GA.

    Arnie Brody, Ph.D., cell biology, Raleigh, NC.

    Barry Horn, M.D., pulmonology, Orinda.

    Elizabeth Jackson, M.D., cardiology, Birmingham, AL.

  • Defendant's Medical Expert(s):

    James Caplan, M.D., pulmonology, Los Angeles.

    C. Alan Brown, M.D., cardiology, Santa Barbara.

    Michael Holland, M.D., toxicology, New York, NY.

  • Plaintiff's Technical Expert(s):

    John Templin, CIH, industrial hygiene, Boise, ID.

    Robert Johnson, MA, economist, Los Altos.

  • Defendant's Technical Expert(s):

    Mike Stone, construction, Richmond, TX.

    Tim Bormann, CIH, industrial hygiene, San Mateo.

    Jennifer Pierce, Ph.D., industrial hygiene and toxicology, Chicago, IL.

Facts and Background

  • Facts and Background:

    John Dennis Metzger died at the age of 73 of malignant, pleural mesothelioma, a preventable but always-fatal cancer of the lining of the lungs only caused by asbestos exposure.

    Mr. Metzger was exposed to asbestos during his work as a laborer for oil refineries in the early 1970s. He was also exposed to asbestos while working on a land survey crew at the City of Newport Beach in the 1980s where he was in close proximity to workers cutting asbestos cement pipe manufactured and installed by J-M Manufacturing Company, Inc. and George Dakovich & Son, Inc., respectively.

    Mr. Metzger is survived by his wife Gail and daughter Desiree Flaws and two grandchildren. Metzger's battle with mesothelioma was nearly a year long. He endured nine rounds of chemotherapy, which did not slow down his aggressive cancer.

  • Plaintiff's Contentions:

    That asbestos from defendants' asbestos cement pipe increased decedent's risk of mesothelioma and caused his death. That defendants failed to warn about the hazards of asbestos, including the use of a power saw to cut it, which released substantial amounts of asbestos dust in the breathing zone of Mr. Metzger.

  • Defendant's Contentions:

    That Metzger was not close enough to the cutting of asbestos cement pipe to be at an increased risk of mesothelioma from their products. Also, that Metzger's employer, the City of Newport Beach, should have protected Metzger from defendants' asbestos cement pipe.

    If J-MM sold any asbestos cement pipe to the decedent’s employer, the City of Newport Beach, or any of the contractors who installed asbestos cement pipe at the City of Newport Beach, it was because the City mandated and required the use of asbestos cement pipe on its premises. All asbestos cement pipe was built according to an industry standard. The City of Newport Beach was fully aware of the potential hazards associated with misuse of asbestos-cement pipe based on its status as an employer with legal obligations under the Federal and CAL OSHA asbestos standard. Further, the installation contracts produced by the City of Newport Beach prior to trial and introduced into evidence at trial showed that the City had received multiple installation guides from the various manufacturers and suppliers of asbestos cement pipe, including J-MM, illustrating the installation practices that must be employed to install the pipe safely, and specifically warning against cutting the pipe with an unventilated power saw, which was the work practice the decedent testified he observed others performing in his presence. The contracts provided by the City also required that the contractor follow OSHA and CAL-OSHA regulations. During the time period at issue (the 1980s), OSHA and CAL OSHA instructed employers against the use of an unventilated power tool on all asbestos containing products, including pipe. Defendant J-MM therefore argued at trial that, to the extent that the decedent was exposed to significant amounts of asbestos dust from others cutting asbestos cement pipe in his presence with an unventilated power tool as claimed, it was the fault of his employer and the contractors who engaged in misuse of the pipe, and also the City of Newport Beach, who, if the allegations were true, did not hire or monitor qualified parties to install the asbestos cement pipe.

    In addition, J-MM presented evidence at trial that the decedent, who worked as a surveyor, was an unforeseeable bystander as there was no logical reason for him to have been near others cutting asbestos cement pipe as he claimed. Further that the cutting of asbestos cement pipe was an unusual occurrence on a job site.

Injuries and Other Damages

  • Physical Injuries claimed by Plaintiff:

    Incurable, preventable cancer of the lining of the lungs called mesothelioma, an always-fatal and painful cancer.

  • Loss of consortium, loss of income, lost medical expenses and loss of household services.

Special Damages

  • Special Damages Claimed - Past Medical: $270,000
  • Special Damages Claimed - Future Lost Earnings: $376,378

Demands and Offers

  • Plaintiff §998 Demand: Served in 2021 to defendant Dakovich for $499,000 – rejected.