Company requests venue change for asbestos case

Marilyn Tennissen Jun. 25, 2007, 9:25am

A company that allegedly distributed asbestos products is requesting that a recent civil suit be moved out of Jefferson County.

Lula Delafosse, the wife of the deceased Louis Delafosse, filed suit against A.O. Smith Corporation and 42 other companies on May 2 in Jefferson County District Court. The suit alleges that Delafosse's exposure to asbestos caused his death from lung cancer. Attorney Bryan Blevins of Provost Umphrey is representing the plaintiff.

The suit names corporations from aerospace giant Lockheed Martin to iron supplier Zurn Industries for manufacturing and distributing asbestos-laced products.

A motion to transfer venue was filed June 8 on behalf of one of the defendants, A.W. Chesterton Company, which manufactures gaskets and packaging materials.

"Plaintiffs petition does not allege sufficient facts to establish proper venue in Jefferson County," Melody Wilkinson of Cooley Manion Jones LLP in Fort Worth, attorney for defendant Chesterton wrote. "There is no statutory or factual basis for maintaining this lawsuit in Jefferson County."

Chesterton further denies that venue is proper in Jefferson County because:
-Jefferson County is not the county in which all or a substantial part of the events or omissions giving rise to this claim occurred
-Jefferson County is not the county of any defendants' principal office in this state
-Plaintiff or plaintiff's decedent did not reside in Jefferson County at the time of the accrual of this cause of action
-Finally, no mandatory or permissive venue provision authorizes maintenance of this action in Jefferson County

Chesterton claims that venue is proper in Harris County because one or more of the defendants has its principal office in that county.

A lung cancer patient, Louis Delafosse was around 87 years of age when he passed away, the plaintiff's original petition said.

Medical records attached to his lawsuit state Delafosse, a WWII veteran, had occupational exposure to asbestos, probably while working at John Dallinger Steel, Inc. from 1941 to 1942 and 1955 to 1983. The document also says Louis was an avid cigar smoker.

The original petition says the 43 defendants entangled in his lawsuit were negligent, failing to adequately test their asbestos-laced products before flooding the market with dangerous goods.

Lula Delafosse is suing for physical pain and suffering in the past and future, mental anguish in the past and future, lost wages, loss of earning capacity, disfigurement in the past and future, physical impairment in the past and future, and past and future medical expenses.

Case No. E179-226

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