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SoCal Man awarded $3 million from jury for asbestos exposure during work in Ukiah

A jury awarded $3 million Thursday to a Southern California man who was exposed to asbestos while working in Ukiah.

Ervan Groves, 80, of El Centro and his wife sued D.W. Nicholson Corp., alleging that his terminal cancer was caused by asbestos exposure while the company was performing contracting jobs at a facility in which Groves worked.

Groves worked for Masonite Corp. in Ukiah from 1964 to 1999, and D.W. Nicholson installed mechanical, electrical and piping equipment at Masonite more than 100 times while Groves worked there, according to lawyers who worked on his case.

Venus Burns, a lawyer for Weitz & Luxenberg who worked on the case on behalf of Groves, said D.W. Nicholson failed to tell Masonite employees they were potentially exposed to asbestos, and failed to clean up asbestos that they left behind.

“We hope this is a valuable lesson for other companies, and we hope companies will act a lot more safely,” Burns said.

D.W. Nicholson did not respond to a request for comment Thursday.

A jury found D.W. Nicholson was responsible for 20% of the damages to Groves, while Masonite was responsible for 70% and a third company, J.T. Thorpe and Son was responsible for 10%. J.T. Thorpe and Son settled prior to the verdict and Masonite was not named in the suit, meaning only D.W. Nicholson will have to pay after the verdict, Burns said.

You can reach Staff Writer Andrew Beale at 707-521-5205 or andrew.beale@pressdemocrat.com. On Twitter @iambeale.

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