Suit claims asbestos caused refinery worker's colon cancer, death

David Yates Jul. 16, 2007, 1:17pm

J. Keith Hyde

William Holmes, a local refinery worker, died of colon cancer more than a year ago. His benefactor, Joy Holmes, claims William's cancer was caused by asbestos and is suing Chevron U.S.A. and Texaco for negligently exposing him to the "toxic" dust during his employment at the Port Arthur plant.

Provost Umphrey attorney Keith Hyde filed the personal injury lawsuit on Joy's behalf with the Jefferson County District Court on July 12.

According to the American Cancer Society, colorectal (colon) cancer is one of the leading causes of cancer-related deaths in the U.S. There is no single cause for colon cancer. Nearly all colon cancers begin as benign polyps, which slowly develop into cancer. And in almost all cases, early diagnosis can lead to a complete cure.

However, Joy Holmes and her attorney are confident William Holmes colon cancer developed from asbestos exposure.

"During Holmes employment as a laborer and outside machinist, he used and was exposed to toxic materials including asbestos dust and/or fibers," the suit said. "As a result of such exposure, Holmes developed an asbestos-related disease, specifically colon cancer, for which he died a painful and terrible death on March 1, 2006."

The suit alleges that the oil conglomerate knew for decades that asbestos-containing products could cause the disease asbestosis and other asbestos-related cancers but still allowed its employees to work with and around the naturally occurring mineral.

"The defendant acted with malice…and gross neglect for exposing Holmes to asbestos," the suit said. "The defendant failed to timely and adequately warn workers of the dangers of asbestos…and failed to take the necessary engineering, safety, industrial hygiene and other precautions and provide adequate warning and training to ensure that the deceased was not exposed to the asbestos-containing products."

Asbestos, an excellent fire retardant, was used for centuries in the construction of buildings.

Joy Holmes is suing for exemplary damages and seeks "to recover from the defendant an amount in excess of the jurisdictional limits of this Court. "Further, plaintiff seeks a claim for prejudgment interest for all elements allowed them," the suit said.

Joy is demanding a trial by jury.

Judge Gary Sanderson, 60th Judicial District, will preside over the case.

Case No. B179-651

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