Dean Omar not Short on Tort
Working-class family life has given attorney Jessica Dean an empathy for the hard-working workers of America’s most important industries. Her father worked up to 80 hours a week at McDonnell Douglas producing airplane parts. He was fatigued, but he was proud of the job he had done to help his family out.
As a result of her upbringing, Dean Omar decided to pursue a profession in the legal field. Jessica Dean, a lawyer of Dean Omar, Branham & Shirley LLP, representing workers who have been seriously injured or killed by their employer’s negligence. She also takes on cases on behalf of large groups of people.
As a plaintiff’s attorney, one of Dean’s most difficult cases involves fighting for compensation for wounded workers who don’t make it to the end of the trial. Some of the injured workers’ loved ones have already passed away by the time they first get in touch with her. As part of a recent interview, she discussed the case of Jerry “Doy” Coogan from Kettle Falls. In 2015, Coogan succumbed to mesothelioma, a cancer caused by years of exposure to asbestos while working.
Brake pads and other automotive accessories containing asbestos were part of Coogan’s duties at Genuine Parts Company while working there. The National Automotive Parts Association was a distribution channel for Genuine Parts Company’s auto parts (NAPA). Attorney Jessica Dean Omar was engaged by Coogan’s family to initiate a case against both corporations worth $81.5 million. Nearly $15 million in damages and interest were awarded to plaintiffs after 12 weeks of deliberation by a jury.
“Many vendors of friction parts, such as brakes, clutches, and gaskets, have known for over a century that their products contain asbestos and can kill,” Jessica Dean said after the first court trial. However, they refuse to accept any responsibility for their actions. Other families will undoubtedly face the same fate because several companies sold these devices well into 2001.
“It’s been my experience that people who have had long, severe illnesses or lost loved ones to work-related ailments don’t want to see anyone else go through the same thing they experienced,” says Dean, who has been practicing law for 19 years. Rather than seeking retribution, these litigants and their family members suit to safeguard those who will follow them.
The lower court’s ruling was promptly challenged by Genuine Parts Company and NAPA because of the damages awarded. Two key objections were upheld by the court of appeals. In the first place, a defense witness nominated by the two firms was not allowed to testify at the trial. After hearing arguments from both sides, it was decided that subjective determinations of how much pain and suffering Coogan had gone through should not be considered.
Genuine Parts Company and NAPA were found guilty by the jury for creating Coogan’s mesothelioma symptoms, which the appeal court did not contest. This was argued, and a new trial was ordered, to decide the amount of damages that should be awarded.
When the appellate court interpreted the initial trial court verdict, Jessica Dean thought it was wrong. They were confident that she would continue to represent them and push the issue to the Supreme Court of Washington State, Doy Coogan’s widow Gerri Coogan.