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Selby v. High Desert – $500,000 Settlement of Case for Painter’s Death

The Metzger Law Group has settled a wrongful death case of a painter who died at the age of 30. Selby v. High Desert, Los Angeles Superior Court Case No. MC 015412.  Blaine Selby worked as an aircraft painter at Avtel Services, Inc. from 1996 to 2001.  In his employment, Mr. Selby sprayed paints and stripping chemicals on aircraft.  In so doing, he inhaled vapors of paints and solvents and also had substantial skin exposure to organic solvents.  In 2001, Mr. Selby was diagnosed with membranous glomerulonephritis, a chronic kidney disease.  He received dialysis and other treatments, but his condition worsened, and Mr. Selby died from kidney failure on December 30, 2002. Mr. Selby was survived by his wife, Genevieve, and two young children, Vanessa and Ryan.

Plaintiffs claimed that the Defendants were liable to them, because they did not warn Mr. Selby that exposure to their paints and solvents could cause kidney disease, kidney failure, or death. Defendants claimed that some of them warned that exposure to their products could damage the urinary tract, and that this was an adequate warning of fatal kidney disease for all of them.

Plaintiffs claimed that Mr. Selby was unaware that exposure to Defendants’ products could give him a fatal kidney disease and that if he had known this, he would have obtained a different job to protect his health and safety.

Plaintiffs claimed that Defendants failed to instruct Avtel Services that its employees should use independent air supply respirators when spraying their paints and solvents rather than a cartridge respirator. Plaintiffs claimed that Avtel Services would have provided Mr. Selby an independent air supply respirator to do his work had such an instruction been provided by Defendants, and that such a respirator would have prevented Mr. Selby’s exposure to Defendants’ products, so that he would not have developed kidney disease.

Plaintiffs claimed that a causal association between exposure to paints and solvents and kidney disease, including membranous glomerulonephritis, is established by the medical and scientific literature. In support of this claim, Plaintiffs relied on the testimony of Dr. Nachman Brautbar, a physician board-certified in nephrology (kidney disease) who had published several articles concluding that solvents cause kidney disease, including glomerulonphritis.

The defendants contended that exposure to organic solvents does not cause membranous glomerulonephritis and that Mr. Selby’s disease was idiopathic (of unknown cause). Defendants also contended that Mr. Selby’s smoking history, recreational drug use, and an unidentified infectious agent caused his disease.


The case settled for a total sum in excess of $500,000.  Several settlements with defendants were consummated informally, and the remaining settlements were consummated at a settlement conference conducted by the Hon. Wendell Mortimer shortly before trial was scheduled to commence.