Court upholds widow’s verdict

The Tribune Chronicle

June 3, 2002

Columbus – A Bristolville woman and her three children are poised to receive $1.6 million after the Ohio Supreme Court recently upheld a verdict by a jury in Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court awarding the 80-year-old widow that amount after her husband – an LTV steelworker in Warren – died after exposure to asbestos in the plant.

The steelworker, Joseph Cicchillo, died in 1998 from mesothelioma, a form of cancer that affects the lining of the lungs. He was 78 years old.

Attorneys for Julia Cicchillo linked the cancer to the asbestos in pipe insulation that was manufactured by Pittsburgh Corning Corp., which was named as a defendant.

The Ohio Supreme Court decided not to accept the appeal of Pittsburgh Corning from the federal 8th Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati, which affirmed the original jury verdict earlier this year.

"Mr. Cicchillo died four years ago and, to date, Pittsburgh Corning has done everything possible to deny her rightful compensation for her husband's tragic death," said attorney Michael V. Kelley of Kelley & Ferraro of Cleveland, which won the original case.

The case was the first by a jury in Ohio against Pittsburgh Corning in a wrongful death asbestos lawsuit.

The circuit court concluded that the evidence presented by Kelley & Ferraro lawyers "supports the jury finding that Mr. Cicchillo's mesothelioma was the result of his more than 40-year exposure to the asbestos he worked with." The law firm is handling more than 25,000 asbestos cases in Ohio alone.

Several other companies named as defendants settled with the Cicchillo estate before the two-week trial in Cleveland.

Pittsburgh Corning, which made the pipe covering from 1962 to 1972, filed for federal bankruptcy protection in April 2000, but the jury verdict is secured by a $2.4 million bond posted by the company guaranteeing payment by an insurance carrier.

Cicchillo joined Republic Steel in 1951 and continued working at the Warren plant after Republic was taken over by LTV. He was diagnosed with cancer in May 1998, and the suit was filed in October of that year, a month after he died.