RABOVSKY et al v. AIR & LIQUID SYSTEMS CORPORATION et al
MEMORANDUM OPINION SIGNED BY HONORABLE NITZA I QUINONES ALEJANDRO ON 6/15/16. 6/15/16 ENTERED AND COPIES MAILED, E-MAILED. (va, )
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF PENNSYLVANIA
ANN RABOVSKY and LYNN C.
DOBRICK, Personal Representative of
the Estate of VALENT RABOVSKY,
AIR & LIQUID SYSTEMS
CORPORATION, et al.
NITZA I. QUINONES ALEJANDRO, J.
JUNE 15, 2016
On March 30, 2010, Valent Rabovsky ("Decedent") and his wife, Ann Rabovsky
(collectively, "Plaintiffs"), commenced a civil action against various defendants in the
Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas, 1 claiming that Valent Rabovsky, who had worked
as a millwright since the 1950's, developed malignant mesothelioma from work-related exposure
to asbestos and products containing asbestos, which were produced, manufactured, or sold by
Defendants. 2 This civil action was removed to federal court on July 1, 2010. 3 [ECF 1]. In their
Valent Rabovsky, et vir. v. Air & Liquid Sys. Corp., et al. , 1003-5767.
Air & Liquid Systems Corporation (sued as successor-by-merger to Buffalo Pumps, Inc.), A.K.
Steel Holding Corporation f/k/a Armco, Inc., Allegheny Energy Supply Company, LLC, Anchor Darling
Valve Company, Beazer East, Inc. (individually and as successor-in-interest to Koppers Company, Inc.),
BW/IP International , Inc. (individually and as successor-in-interest to Byron Jackson Pump Company),
CBS Corporation f/k/a Viacom, Inc. (sued as successor-by-merger to CBS Corporation f/k/a Westinhouse
Electric Corporation and also as successor-in-interest to BF Sturtevant), Crane Co. (individually and as
successor-in-interest to Chapman Valve Company), Crane Environmental, Inc. (individually and as
successor-in-interest to Chicago Heater Co., Inc.), Crown Cork & Seal Company, Inc. (individually and
as successor-in-interest to Mudet Cork Company), The Doe Run Resources Corporation f/k/a St. Joseph
Lead Co., Duequesne Light Company, E.l. Du Pont du Nemours & Company, Eichleay Engineers, Inc. of
California, Electrolux Home Products (as successor-by-merger to White Consolidated Industries, as
amended complaint, Plaintiffs averred that Defendant Crane Co., individually and as successorin-interest to Chapman Valve Company, manufactured, produced, sold, and/or supplied Crane
Co. valves at Decedent' s work sites. Am. Compl.
if 3. [ECF 237]. Plaintiffs proceeded to trial
against only Defendant Crane Co.; however, liability assessment of certain other defendants (the
"Settling Defendants") was also presented to the jury.
On February 2, 2016, a jury trial was held on the issue of whether Defendant Crane Co.
was negligent in failing to warn Plaintiffs of the danger of exposure to asbestos. 4 The jury found
in favor of Plaintiffs and awarded $1,085,000 in damages, consisting of $835,000 in
compensatory damages for the Decedent's Estate under the Survival Act, 20 Pa. C.S. § 3371, et
seq., and $250,000 for Ann Rabovsky for loss of consortium. The jury apportioned liability
amongst Defendant Crane Co. and the Settling Defendants, and specifically assessed liability as
successor-by-merger to Copes Vulcan, Inc.), Elliott Turbo Machinery Company a/k/a Elliott Company,
Flowserve (US), Inc. (successor-by-merger to Durco International and successor to Byron Jackson Pump
Company), Foster Wheeler Energy Corporation, Garlock Sealing Technologies, LLC (individually and as
successor-in-interest to Garlock, Inc.), General Electric Company, Goulds Pumps, Inc., The Great
Atlantic & Pacific Tea Company d/b/a A&P Supermarkets, Honeywell International (individually and as
successor-in-interest to Bendix Corporation), IMO Industries, Inc. (individually and as successor-ininterest to Delaval Turbine, Inc.), Ingersoll Rand Company (individually and as successor-in-interest-bymerger to Trane US, Inc.), Jervis B. Webb Company, Koppers, Inc., Kraft Foods Global, Inc. d/b/a
Nabisco Brands, Pennsylvania Electric Company, Pevarnik Bros, Inc., Riley Power, Inc. f/k/a Riley
Stoker Corporation, RRI Energy Services, Inc. d/b/a Reliant Energy, The Ruhlin Company f/k/a The John
G. Ruhlin Construction Co., Trane US, Inc. f/k/a American Standard Companies, United States Steel
Corporation, Viad Corporation f/k/a The Dial Corporation (individually and as successor-in-interest to
Griscom-Russell Company), Wayne Crouse, Inc., and Yarway Corporation.
This matter was part of Multidistrict Litigation-875 Jn Re: Asbestos Products Liability Litigation
(No. VI) ("MDL-875").
Prior to trial, Valent Rabovsky died and his daughter, Lynn C. Dobrick, was appointed the
personal representative of the Estate of Valent Rabosvky on July 23, 2012. [ECF 219].
Joint Tortfeasor Defendant
Foster Wheeler Energy Corp.
Goulds Pumps, Inc.
Doe Run Resources Corp.
Duquesne Light Company
AK Steel Corporation
Beazer East, Inc.
IMO Industries, Inc.
Pennsylvania Electric Company
United States Steel Corporation
[ECF 361]. Pursuant to this Court's post-trial scheduling order, Plaintiffs and Defendant Crane
Co. filed motions with supporting memoranda and later presented oral argument on whether and
how the verdict should be molded.
Presently before this Court are: (1) Defendant Crane Co.' s motion to mold the verdict and
award, [ECF 363]; (2) Plaintiffs' motion to mold the verdict against Defendant Crane Co., [ECF
364], and Defendant's responses, [ECF 373, 374]; and (3) Plaintiffs' motion for delay damages,
[ECF 359], Defendant's response, [ECF 362], Plaintiffs' amended motion for delay damages,
[ECF 379], and Defendant's response. [ECF 382]. For the reasons set forth herein, Defendant
Crane Co. 's motion to mold the verdict and award is denied; Plaintiffs' motions to mold the
verdict against Defendant Crane Co. and for delay damages are granted.
In its motion to mold the verdict and award, Defendant Crane Co. contends that Plaintiffs
have already been made whole through their settlement agreements with Settling Defendants
prior to trial, and by present/future claims filed with asbestos bankruptcy trusts. Defendant Crane
Co. argues that Plaintiffs are, therefore, not entitled to further monetary award since the doctrine
of joint and several liability does not support Plaintiffs' recovery of more than one satisfaction
for one injury. Defendant Crane Co. further contends that the holding in Charles v. Giant Eagle
Mkts., 522 A.2d 1, 3 (Pa. 1987), a case relied upon by Plaintiffs for the proposition that a non-
settling tort-feasor remains liable for his full proportionate share of the damage award regardless
of the amount paid by a settling defendant, is inapplicable because Plaintiffs suffered no
shortfall. Defendant Crane Co. offers no information or evidence to support its claim, but instead
speculates that the total consideration paid by the Settling Defendants in exchange for Plaintiffs'
release of claims, plus the amount received or which will be received as a result of claims filed
with asbestos bankruptcy trusts, exceeds the jury's $1,085,000 verdict. 5
In their motions to mold the verdict and for delay damages, Plaintiffs request that final
judgment against Defendant Crane Co. be entered and the total verdict amount of $1,085,000 be
molded to $325,500 to reflect the 30% amount of liability apportioned to Defendant Crane Co.,
and to that amount, apply delay damages. In support of these requests, Plaintiffs argue that: (1)
Defendant Crane Co. is jointly and severally liable for Plaintiffs' damages; (2) Defendant Crane
Co. is entitled to a set-off for any settlement amount agreed to with a Settling Defendant who the
jury found was a joint tortfeasor; and (3) the verdict against Defendant Crane Co. cannot be less
than the 30% share of liability apportioned to Defendant Crane Co. Plaintiffs further contend that
Prior to oral argument regarding damages, Plaintiffs had offered to produce to Defendant Crane
Co. the pro rata or pro tanto settlement amounts under a confidentiality agreement, if ordered by this
Court. See Pltfs' Motion 8 n.2, [ECF 365); see also Dft's Supplement to Record Re. Communication
between Counsel. [ECF 3 80). However, no party sought such a protective order. Plaintiffs submitted
copies of the settlement agreements for this Court's in camera review only to determine whether
Defendant Crane Co. would be entitled to a set-off.
there is no justification for any credit that would lower the judgment against Defendant Crane
Co. below the jury's verdict, i.e., Defendant Crane Co.'s $325,500 liability.
In light of the parties' opposing motions and arguments, the issues presented herein are
whether Plaintiffs are entitled to a monetary award as determined by the jury (plus delay
damages) and a molded verdict pursuant to Plaintiffs' undisclosed settlements with the Settling
Defendants and asbestos bankruptcy trusts, and whether, under the Uniform Contribution Among
Tortfeasors Act, 42 Pa. C.S. § 8324(a), Defendant Crane Co. may receive a credit, or set-off, for
Decedent was diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma m 2009. The parties do not
dispute that Plaintiffs' claims accrued prior to the effective date of the Fair Share Act (also
known as the Comparative Negligence Act).6 The parties agree that the common law rule of joint
and several liability applies. Under this common law rule, when a plaintiff seeks to impose joint
and several liability on two or more defendants, the plaintiff seeks to recover a judgment which
can be enforced, in whole or in part, against each of the defendants. Sehl v. Neff, 26 A.3d 1130,
1133 (Pa. Super. 2011) (quoting Hileman v. Morelli, 605 A.2d 377, 384-385 (Pa. Super. 1992)
(quotation marks omitted)). That is, the imposition of joint and several liability enables an
injured party to satisfy an entire judgment against any one of the tortfeasors, even if the wrongdoing of that tortfeasor contributed only a small part of the total harm inflicted. Sehl, 26 A.3d at
113 3. If defendants are held jointly and severally liable, they may have contribution rights as
between them, but this does not affect the plaintiffs right to collect the entire judgment from any
one defendant. Id. at 1133-34.
The Fair Share Act eliminated joint and several liability in Pennsylvania in cases that accrued on
or after its effective date of June 28, 201I.See42 Pa. C.S. § 7102.
Also applicable is the Uniform Contribution Among Tortfeasors Act ("UCATA"), a
comprehensive statute that covers, inter alia, methods for computing set-offs. 42 Pa. C.S. §
8324(a); Baker v. ACandS, 755 A.2d 664, 667 (Pa. 2000) ("Baker If'). Relevant to this
discussion is the section of the UCATA which provides:
A release by the injured person of one joint tort-feasor, whether before or after
judgment, does not discharge the other tort-feasors unless the release so provides,
but reduces the claim against the other tort-feasors in the amount of the
consideration paid for the release or in any amount or proposition by which the
release provides that the total claim shall be reduced if greater than the
42 Pa. C.S. § 8326.
Under the UCATA, two actors are joint tortfeasors if their conduct causes a single harm
which cannot be apportioned even though the actors may have acted independently. United
States v. Sunoco, Inc., 501 F. Supp. 2d 656, 661 (E.D. Pa. 2007) (quoting Rabatin v. Columbus
Lines, Inc., 790 F.2d 22, 25 (3d Cir. 1986) (finding that a strictly liable equipment manufacturer
and a neglient equipment owner were joint tortfeasors, as their separate wrongdoings caused a
single harm to plaintiff, who was injured when a piece of equipment broke)); Baker I, 729 A.2d
at 1146 (citations omitted). Death by its nature is an indivisible injury. Harsh v. Pe troll, 887
A.2d 209, 212 (Pa. Super. 2005) (finding joint tortfeasor status of negligent car driver and car
manufacturer where plaintiffs injuries were considered a single injury caused by both entities).
The UCATA contemplates three set-off scenarios. First: if the settlement agreement is
silent as to its classification, the set-off mechanism defaults to a pro tanto set-off and a
nonsettling tortfeasor is entitled to have the verdict reduced by the actual amount of
consideration paid by the settling tortfeasor. Baker II, 755 A.2d at 667; see also Andoloro v.
Armstrong World Indus., Inc., 799 A.2d 71 , 78 (Pa. Super. 2002) (distinguishing between pro
rata and pro tanto settlements as to a plaintiff settling a claim with a settlement trust). A settling
plaintiff is assured recovery of the full amount of the verdict regardless of any shortfall in
consideration paid, and the remaining defendants are then subject to a greater proportionate share
of liability. Andoloro, 799 A.2d at 78-79 (citing Baker I, 729 A.2d at 1151 ). Second: if the
settlement agreement specifically provides for a pro tanto set-off, the UCAT A contemplates that
such a specific election will always control. Baker II, 755 A.2d at 667. Third: if the settlement
agreement specifies a form of set-off other than a pro tanto set-off, e.g., a pro rata set-off, a total
claim could be reduced if greater than the consideration paid. Id. Such a pro rata set-off would
allow a nonsettling tortfeasor to reduce the amount of money owed to plaintiffs in an amount
equal to the settling defendants' apportioned share of the verdict. Id. at 668. The U CATA
restricts, however, when a specific pro rata election will be allowed to operate. Section 8326
specifies that such a choice will become operative only if such a pro rata set-off would yield a
set-off figure which is higher than the consideration paid by the settling tortfeasor. Id. A settling
plaintiff, however, may not recover a shortfall from the remaining non-settling defendants if its
settlement with the settling defendant is for an amount less than that defendant's apportioned
share of liability. Andoloro, 799 A.2d at 78.
Here, at the conclusion of the trial, the jury found that the acts and/or omissions of
Defendant Crane Co. and six Settling Defendants were a substantial factor in causing Decedent
to develop malignant mesothelioma and ultimately his death. The jury apportioned to each
tortfeasor a corresponding percentage of liability.
Molding the Verdict
When considering the parties' respective motions to mold the verdict, this Court is also
guided by the holding in Charles. There, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court held that where a
release has been executed, the verdict is reduced only by the allocated proportionate share of the
settling tortfeasor. Charles, 522 A.2d at 3. That is, the nonsettling tortfeasor may not enjoy a setoff which would reduce or lower its out-of-pocket expense below its own allocated share of the
liability, contrary to Defendant Crane Co' s. present argument. The Charles court opted for the
pro rata set-off method, requiring a non-settling defendant to pay its full share of the verdict.
The actual amount of the release, if it exceeds this sum, is of no consequence in the satisfaction
of the judgment of the remaining nonsettling defendant. The fact that the plaintiff may receive a
larger amount in damages than that determined by the jury (a windfall) does not militate against
such an approach. Id. This practice of holding the nonsettling tortfeasor liable for his full
proportionate share advances the policy in favor of settlement. Id.
Further, a nonsettling defendant' s liability is not predicated upon the liability of any third
party, i.e., the settling defendants or non-parties. Rather, liability is based upon the deleterious
effects of its own actions or products on plaintiffs. Amato v. Bell & Gossett, 116 A.3d 607, 616
(Pa. Super. 2015) (quotation marks omitted). A nonsettling defendant is only entitled to a
reduction of the jury verdict based on settlements made by parties found to be joint tortfeasors.
Id. at 617. Any set-off of Plaintiffs' claims and/or settlements with any asbestos bankruptcy trust
that was not either joined in the litigation and/or found to be a joint tortfeasor is precluded. Id.
Hence, a defendant is only entitled to a reduction of the jury verdict based on settlements made
by parties, including settlement trusts, found to be joint tortfeasors. Id.
Here, Defendant Crane Co. argues for the exercise of "equitable powers" and this Court' s
consideration of Plaintiffs' purported settlements and claims filed with asbestos bankruptcy
trusts to reduce its liability. Defendant Crane Co. relies upon Reed v. Allied Signal, Inc., 20 Pa.
D. & C.5th 385 (Phila. Ct. Com. Pl. 2010), afj"d, 40 A.3d 184 (Pa. Super. 2011), an
asbestos/malignant mesothelioma case in which the trial court delved into the mechanics of the
Trust Distribution Process ("TDP"), and molded the verdict to reflect funds received from
settling defendants and asbestos bankruptcy trust settlements. Defendant Crane Co.'s reliance on
Reed, however, is misplaced. Unlike Reed, no asbestos bankruptcy trusts in this matter were
found to be joint tortfeasors. Rather, under the UCATA:
[A] non-settling defendant is not entitled to a set-off in light of the settling
defendant's release unless the settling and nonsettling defendants are both deemed
to be joint tortfeasors. 42 Pa. C.S. § 8326. Therefore, ACandS would not be
entitled to a set-off unless the Manville Trust is deemed to be a joint tortfeasor,
then eluctably it must be apportioned an equal share of the liability.
Baker II, 755 A.2d at 671-72.
Likewise, the Pennsylvania Superior Court's holding in Amato, a similar matter which
also involves Defendant Crane Co., provides authoritative support for the proposition that a
defendant is not entitled to a reduction of the verdict for non-parties to the litigation who settled
with the plaintiffs prior to trial, absent the presentation of evidence from which the court could
conclude that the non-parties are joint tortfeasors. Amato, 116 A.3d at 617 ("the company is only
entitled to a reduction of the jury verdict based on settlements made by parties found to be joint
tortfeasors by the court."). Therefore, because Defendant Crane Co. did not present evidence
from which this Court could conclude that any non-parties are joint tortfeasors, and because the
jury, after weighing the evidence, allocated liability amongst seven Defendants whom it
determined to be joint tortfeasors, Defendant Crane Co. is only entitled to a reduction of the total
jury verdict based on the Plaintiffs' settlements with parties found to be joint tortfeasors, i.e. , the
Settling Defendants, and the jury's determination of Defendant Crane Co.'s apportioned share of
Ignoring established case law, however, Defendant Crane Co. also argues that its liability
should be reduced essentially to zero on account of Plaintiffs' settlements with other Defendants
and Plaintiffs' claims with asbestos bankruptcy trusts. However, Defendant Crane Co. 's dollar
figure is derived from pure speculation. Because of confidentiality provisions governing the
settlement agreements, Plaintiffs did not disclose to Defendant Crane Co. the types of releases
entered into by the Settling Defendants and Plaintiffs mainly because Defendant Crane Co.
refused to sign a confidentiality agreement. As mentioned, this Court has reviewed these
settlement agreements in camera. Upon this review, were this Court to mold the verdict in strict
accordance with the pro tanto and pro rata scenarios contemplated by the UCATA, both of
which are applicable here, and the law described above, Defendant Crane Co. would actually be
liable for more than what Plaintiffs seek in their motion. Nonetheless, as dictated by Charles,
Defendant Crane Co. is liable for its full 30% share of the verdict.
Plaintiffs initially requested $66,955 .35 in delay damages based on Defendant Crane
Co.'s apportioned 30% of the total $1,085,000 verdict, or $325 ,500. [ECF 359]. As stated,
Defendant Crane Co. contends that Plaintiffs are entitled to no additional damages but argues
that to the extent this Court does award delay damages, the calculation of delay damages should
not include Ann Rabovsky's loss of consortium award. In this latter regard, Defendant Crane Co.
Pennsylvania Rule of Civil Procedure ("Rule") 238 provides for delay damages in actions
for bodily injury, death or property damage only, and (1) shall be awarded for the period of time
from a date one year after the date original process was first served in the action up to the date of
the award, verdict or decision, and (2) shall be calculated at the rate equal to the prime rate as
listed in the first edition of the Wall Street Journal published for each calendar year for which the
damages are awarded, plus one percent, not compounded. Pa. R. Civ. P. 238(a)(2)-(3). Rule 238
is applied as substantive Pennsylvania law by federal courts. See Sealover v. Carey Canada Inc.,
996 F.2d 42, 46 (3d Cir. 1993) (citing Knight v. Tape, Inc., 935 F.2d 617, 622 n.4 (3d Cir. 1991)
("Rule 238 is 'substantive' for Erie purposes and thus must be applied by a federal court sitting
A claim for loss of consortium is different from a claim for bodily injury. While it stems
from the spouse's bodily injury it is, nevertheless, a separate and distinct claim. Anchorstar v.
Mack Trucks, Inc., 620 A.2d 1120, 1121-22 (Pa. 1993 ). Loss of consortium is a loss of services,
society, and conjugal affection of one's spouse. Id. at 1122 (citing Bedillion v. Frazee, 183 A.2d
341, 343 (Pa. 1962); Hopkins v. Blanco, 302 A.2d 855 (Pa. Super. 1973), aff'd, 320 A.2d 139
(Pa. 1974)). One who has suffered a loss of consortium has not sustained a bodily injury but
rather has experienced an injury to marital expectations. The mere fact that such a claim is joined
in the same civil action as a claim for bodily injury does not alter its basic character as a separate
and distinct claim. Id. (citing Manzitti v. Amsler, 550 A.2d 537, 538-42 (Pa. Super. 1988), afj'd,
574 A.2d 601 (Pa. 1990)).
At oral argument, Plaintiffs acknowledged the applicable law referenced by Defendant
Crane Co. and submitted an amended motion for delay damages, [ECF 379], recalculating the
amount of delay damages. Therefore, delay damages are calculated on 30% of $835,000 (total
jury verdict minus loss of consortium damages), or as follows:
2011 Delay Damages: $250,500 (amount of compensatory damages) x 4.25% (interest
rate) x .73 (number of days delay damages rewardable [265 days]-;- 365) = $7,771.76
2012 Delay Damages: $250,500 (amount of compensatory damages) x 4.25% (interest
rate) x 1.0 (number of days delay damages rewardable [365 days]-;-365) = $10,646.2
2013 Delay Damages: $250,500 (amount of compensatory damages) x 4.25% (interest
rate) x 1.0 (number of days delay damages rewardable [365 days]-;- 365) = $10,646.25
2014 Delay Damages: $250,500 (amount of compensatory damages) x 4.25% (interest
rate) x 1.0 (number of days delay damages rewardable [365 days]-;- 365) = $10,646.25
2015 Delay Damages: $250,500 (amount of compensatory damages) x 4.25% (interest
rate) x 1.0 (number of days delay damages rewardable (365 days]-:- 365) = $10,646.25
2016 Delay Damages: $250,500 (amount of compensatory damages) x 4.5% (interest
rate) x .11 (number of days delay damages rewardable (40 days]-:- 365) = $1,239.97
After totaling each year, Plaintiffs are entitled to $51,596. 73 in delay damages. This amount,
added to Defendant Crane Co. 's 30% apportioned liability amount of $325,500, results in a total
molded verdict against Defendant Crane Co. in the amount of $377,096.73.
For the reasons set forth herein, Defendant Crane Co. 's motion to mold the verdict and
award is denied, Plaintiffs' motion to mold the verdict against Defendant Crane Co. is granted,
and Plaintiffs' amended motion for delay damages is granted, in accordance with the calculations
made. An Order consistent with this Memorandum Opinion follows.
Nitza I. Quinones Alejandro, US.D.J
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