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BLOOMINGTON — A $4.6 million verdict returned by a McLean County jury in an asbestos-related lawsuit involving a Colfax man has been reversed by the 4th District Appellate Court.

The jury award was returned following a 2016 trial.

In his lawsuit, McKinney argued that Hobart Brothers failed to warm him of the hazardous materials on welding rods that were located near his work area for about eight months in the early 1960s.

In its recent ruling, the appellate court found that Hobart Brothers had no duty to warn McKinney of the hazard because the company was unaware of the risk. 

The court also found no evidence that the welding rods were a substantial cause of the mesothelioma that McKinney later developed.

From its review of the McLean County records, the appellate court ruled that "the amount of asbestos fibers released from defendant's welding rods by rubbing them together or stepping on them was no more than the amount one would have encountered in a natural environment." 

McKinney's Bloomington lawyer, James Wylder, said a petition for review of the appellate decision will be filed with the Illinois Supreme Court.

"We're disappointed. This is another instance where this appellate court is in effect setting itself up as a second jury on what McLean County jurors found," said Wylder.

The reversal also is inconsistent with two state Supreme Court rulings related to legal causation in civil cases, said Wylder.

Hobart's lawyer, Jeffrey Hebrank, was not immediately available for comment Friday on the reversal.

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Contact Edith Brady-Lunny at (309) 820-3276. Follow her on Twitter: @pg_blunny


McLean County Courts Reporter

McLean County courts reporter for The Pantagraph.

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