Alton law firm secures $15M settlement in asbestos case

Katie R. Ochoa

ALTON — Simmons Hanly Conroy has won a $15 million verdict against Kaiser Gypsum on behalf of the family of Munir Seen, a construction worker who died in 2019 of mesothelioma caused by asbestos exposure.

A jury on Friday needed just 45 minutes to find that Kaiser Gypsum acted with reckless disregard for the safety of others and award $15 million in total damages to the Seen family.

In a separate case last week, Simmons Hanly Conroy also secured a $3.8 million verdict against Washington Penn Plastics on behalf of the estate of Daniel “Dan” Rugg and his wife, Sandra.


Dan Rugg died of mesothelioma, an occupational cancer caused by asbestos, after 30 years as a maintenance worker at the Pennsylvania plastics factory. The jury found Wash Penn failed to provide a reasonably safe workplace and awarded $1.4 million in compensatory damages to the family’s estate, $1.65 million in wrongful death damages, and $750,000 in loss of consortium to Sandra Rugg.

In the Seen case, the jury found Kaiser Gypsum responsible for his mesothelioma, according to Shareholder Daniel P. Blouin who served as lead trial attorney. Shareholders Donald P. Blydenburgh, Randy S. Cohn, James R. Huss and Olivia Kelly also represented the Seen family in New York County Supreme Court before Judge Suzanne Adams.

According to trial testimony, Seen was regularly exposed to asbestos from the 1960s through the 1980s as a construction worker in New York and New Jersey. He would mix Kaiser Gypsum’s powdery joint compound with water before applying it to drywall and, following the manufacturer’s directions, sand the product to achieve a smooth surface and create asbestos-contaminated dust.

“Mr. Seen was a good man who made all the right choices so he and his family could live the American Dream,” said Blouin. “No amount of money can bring back Mr. Munir. But the evidence was clear and the verdict was fair.”

Seen immigrated from Jordan to the U.S. in the late 1960s and was diagnosed in 2016 with mesothelioma after experiencing shortness of breath. He continued to work as a security guard until he was forced to retire early. He died in 2019 at age 69, leaving behind two grown children and four grandchildren.

“I lost my best friend. I lost my dad. I lost a part of me,” said Sinar Seen, his son, during the trial. “I just want to call him and hear his voice again.”

“When it came to losing my dad, I lost the source of wisdom in my life,” said Munir’s daughter Sirsa Seen.

The trial lasted three weeks; the jury deliberated for 45 minutes.

Simmons Hanly Conroy has offices in Alton, St. Louis, New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco. For more details visit www.simmonsfirm.com.

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