Smoker dies of lung cancer, children sue for asbestos exposure

David Yates Jul. 24, 2007, 8:49am

From 1946 until 1955 Floyd Williams Sr. worked as a pipe fitter at the Port Arthur Texaco refinery. Five decades later he died of lung cancer. Williams' descendants claim their father was negligently exposed to asbestos during those nine years and are suing his former employer.

Shelby and Floyd Williams Jr., along with several other beneficiaries, filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Chevron U.S.A. and Texaco Inc. with the Jefferson County District Court on July 20.

According to the plaintiffs' original petition, Williams worked for Texaco as pipe fitter helper and general laborer. During his nine years at the plant, he was allegedly exposed to enough asbestos containing products to contract lung cancer.

"Williams' occupational disease proved fatal and he died of lung cancer on Aug. 13, 2005," the suit said. "Even after defendants knew the terrible truth about the propensity of asbestos to cripple, maim and kill, they remained mute when by reasonable effort they could have prevented the risk of cancer."

Medical documents attached to the suit state Williams "had a heavy cigarette-smoking history estimated at 80 pack-years…to greater than 100 pack-years."

In light of Williams' tremendous smoking history, the plaintiffs and their lawyers still blame Chevron/Texaco for Williams' lung cancer, claiming he was negligently told to handle asbestos-containing products, such as thermal and electrical insulation products, flooring materials, textiles, gaskets, wicking and packing, mastics, cement products and coatings, the suit said.

"Defendants Chevron/Texaco were negligent in failing to warn Williams of the severe risk to his health posed by asbestos exposure and inhalation and was negligent in failing to protect and properly instruct him so as to prevent his exposure to the defective and unreasonably dangerous asbestos-containing products that were being handled by Williams and others at defendants premises," the suit said.

"Chevron/Texaco knew or in their exercise of reasonable care should have known from an investigation of the medical and scientific literature or from diligent inquiry of other asbestos product manufacturer of the toxicity of asbestos prior to the first exposure of Williams to the asbestos containing products," the suit said.

The suit goes on to say that plaintiffs Shelby L. Williams, Clifton Jay Williams, Anna Marie Broussard, Kathleen Elizabeth St. Cyr, Floyd Steven Williams, Jr., Timmie Gail Bryan and Floyd Kevin Williams "are entitled to exemplary damages from Chevron/Texaco because Williams' death was caused by an intentional act or omission or by gross negligence."

The plaintiffs are requesting a trial by jury and are represented by attorney Glen Morgan of the Reaud, Morgan & Quinn law firm.

Judge Donald Floyd, 172nd Judicial District, will preside over the case.

Case No. E179-694

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