At 1:30 the Mississippi Supreme Court will hear the silica case of American Optical v. Robert Lee Rankin, Jr.
In 2013, Rankin filed suit in Jefferson County Circuit Court against 21 companies, including American Optical, for damages associated with lung disease allegedly caused by exposure to respirable silica. American Optical was accused of manufacturing defective “personal respiratory equipment.” A jury awarded $14,000,000 in damages and a verdict of $6,300,000 was entered against American Optical. American Optical raises the following issues:
I. Whether Rankin’s claims are barred by the three year statute of limitations because he knew that he suffered from a chronic lung disease associated with silica exposure in November 2007, five-and-a-half years before filing suit?
II. Whether judgment should be rendered on Rankin’s defective-design claims because he failed to prove that the design of the AO respirators proximately caused his injuries and that there is a feasible alternative design that would have prevented his injuries?
III. Whether judgment should be rendered on Rankin’s failure-to-warn claims because he did not read or rely on the warnings provided by American Optical?
IV. Whether judgment should be rendered against Rankin on all claims because he did not prove that he was exposed to a harmful level of silica dust while wearing an AO respirator?
V. Whether judgment should be rendered against Rankin on all claims because he did not prove to a “reasonable basis” the amount of future medical costs attributable to silica-related injures as opposed to his many illnesses and diseases that were unrelated to silica exposure?
VI. Whether, in the alternative, the judgment should be reversed and the case remanded for a new trial because American Optical was deprived of its fundamental right to a fair trial by an impartial jury?
VII. Whether, in the further alternative, the judgment should be reversed and the case remanded for a new trial because the $14,000,000 verdict and resulting $6,300,000 judgment is against the overwhelming weight of the evidence?
Watch the argument here.