History of the Leadership of Robert “Bobby" Hatten
in the Success of Virginia
and National Asbestos Litigation

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1970s
1975 Hatten files the first 11 asbestosis, lung cancer, and mesothelioma claims for Newport News Shipyard workers requesting benefits under the Federal Worker's Compensation laws-specifically the Longshoremen's and Harbor Worker's Compensation Act.
1976 Hatten files the first asbestos product liability lawsuits in Newport News against 40 manufacturers of asbestos products.
1976 Newport News Shipyard drafts its first safety regulations to control asbestos exposure throughout the Shipyard and stops using asbestos pipecovering.
1977 Hatten wins first compensation awards for asbestosis, lung cancer, and mesothelioma victims who filed claims against the Newport News Shipyard under the Longshoremen's and Harbor Worker's Compensation Act.
1978 In Norfolk, Virginia Federal Court Hatten and co-counsel win the first ever Virginia jury verdict for a mesothelioma victim against Johns-Manville Corporation, the nation's largest asbestos manufacturer, for $750,000. It is only the third verdict ever won by an asbestos victim against an asbestos manufacturer in the United States.
1978 The Newport News Shipyard begins an education program to advise workers about the hazards of asbestos.
1979 Hatten obtains first jury verdict in the Norfolk, Virginia Federal Court for asbestosis victims against Johns-Manville Corporation. Four Newport News Shipyard pipecoverers each received verdicts for $435,000.
1980s
1981 Hatten and co-counsel win victory for Shipyard asbestos disease victims in the United States Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, establishing maritime jurisdiction and eliminating Virginia's statute of limitations defense.
1982 Johns-Manville Corporation files for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy relief, and the Federal Court in New York appoints Hatten to be one of 18 lawyers to represent all of the asbestos victims nationwide and to negotiate a settlement with Manville Corporation.
1985 Hatten and co-counsel establish grassroots organization entitled The Virginia Asbestos Victims Association which lobbies the Virginia General Assembly and changes the Virginia statute of limitations so that asbestos victims will have a fair day in court.
1985-1991 Hatten and co-counsel prepare, try, and/or settle 15 asbestos disease cases every two weeks in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia and win numerous jury verdicts for mesothelioma victims, lung cancer victims, and asbestosis victims.
1990s
1990 Hatten and co-counsel consolidate 1,000 asbestosis, lung cancer, and mesothelioma cases for trial against the Johns-Manville Bankruptcy Trust in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia. Over 1,000 judgments-totaling more than $77 million-are entered for asbestos victims who were primarily local shipyard workers.
1991 All asbestos personal injury and wrongful death cases in the Federal courts of the United States are transferred to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where the court appoints Hatten as Chairman of the Litigation Committee of the nation's plaintiffs' asbestos lawyers.
1992 Hatten and co-counsel obtain first Virginia State Court jury verdict against Owens-Corning Fiberglas Corporation for $1 million to compensate a Newport News Shipyard mesothelioma victim. This verdict includes $100,000 in punitive damages-the first punitive damages award in a product liability case in Virginia. The Virginia Supreme Court affirms the verdict.
1992 Hatten and co-counsel persuade the Virginia General Assembly to pass a special statute to permit the consolidation of asbestos cases so as to avoid unnecessary, expensive and repetitive litigation, and to conserve judicial resources.
1993 Hatten and co-counsel negotiate broad-based settlement agreements with numerous asbestos manufacturers to compensate all Virginia asbestosis, lung cancer, and mesothelioma victims who satisfy specific medical and asbestos exposure criteria.
1996 Hatten selected by his peers (asbestos plaintiffs' lawyers across the United States) to testify for asbestos victims in national class action to affirm the fairness of a nationally-negotiated asbestos settlement. The Federal trial court in Philadelphia approves the settlement. The case is reversed on appeal when the Supreme Court of the United States rules that asbestos victims may not prosecute any class actions under Federal law.
1997-2000 Numerous asbestos product manufacturers file for bankruptcy protection. Hatten and his co-counsel are appointed by many of these courts to negotiate nationwide settlements and establish trust funds for asbestos victims.
2000s
2004 Hatten and co-counsel win first Virginia verdict ($473,000) against Garlock, an asbestos gasket manufacturer, for a Newport News Shipyard pipefitter. The trial proceeds under maritime law, and the Virginia Supreme Court affirms the verdict.
2005 Hatten and co-counsel win a $10 million verdict from a Newport News jury for a Newport News Shipyard machinist who died of mesothelioma as a consequence of using asbestos gaskets manufactured by John Crane, Garlock, and Johns-Manville. The Virginia Supreme Court affirms the verdict.
2006 Hatten and co-counsel win a $9 million verdict from a Newport News jury against John Crane and Garlock resulting from exposure to asbestos gaskets by a Newport News Shipyard machinist foreman.
2008 Hatten's partners win a Newport News jury verdict of $1.7 million against John Crane, Inc., in favor of the widow of a boiler technician at Ft. Monroe who was exposed to asbestos gaskets and died of mesothelioma.
2008 Hatten and co-counsel win a Newport News jury verdict of $4,390,000 against John Crane, Inc., on behalf of a Norfolk Naval Shipyard boilermaker trainee who developed mesothelioma as a consequence of exposure to asbestos gaskets and packing.
2009 Hatten and co-counsel win a $3.8 million verdict from a Newport News jury against John Crane, Inc.; Garlock, Crane Co., Warren Pump Company, and Yarway for the widow and children of a Navy master machinist who died of mesothelioma as a result of exposure to asbestos gaskets and packing.
2009 Hatten and co-counsel win a Newport News jury verdict of $5.9 million against John Crane, Inc., for the widow of a Navy machinist who died from mesothelioma as a result of exposure to asbestos gaskets and packing.
2011 Hatten and co-counsel win first jury verdict in Virginia against Exxon for $25 million, to compensate a Newport News Shipyard supervisor who developed mesothelioma as a consequence of exposure to asbestos while performing repair work on Exxon vessels. This verdict included $12 million in punitive damages for reckless conduct by Exxon which was shown to have warned its own workers of the hazards of asbestos but never advised Shipyard workers of that danger.

What do others say about us?

  • Highest Martindale-Hubble Peer Rating of Lawyers - AV rating - Robert R. Hatten, Donald N. Patten
  • Board of Directors of the Virginia Trial Lawyers Association - Robert R. Hatten, Donald N. Patten
  • Selected by their peers as "The Best Lawyers in America" - Robert R. Hatten, Donald N. Patten
  • Served as President of the Virginia Trial Lawyer's Association - Donald N. Patten
  • Designated as Super Lawyer by Virginia Lawyers Weekly - Robert R. Hatten, Donald N. Patten, William W.C. Harty
  • One of first seven recipients of Virginia Lawyers Weekly's Lawyers in the Law for Lifetime Achievement - Robert R. Hatten

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