'Heavy smoker' dies of lung cancer, benefactor sues for asbestos exposure

David Yates Aug. 29, 2007, 8:35am

A brick layer for most of his life, Wayne Williams sued and received a claim for his asbestos-related disease. Now deceased, Williams' benefactor is suing for a "different malignant asbestos-related injury." Williams had a 60 � 80 pack-year smoking history and died of lung cancer.

Attorney Bryan Blevins of Provost Umphrey filed the lawsuit on behalf of Elsie Williams against the A.O. Smith Corp. and 49 other corporations, claiming the companies knowingly and maliciously manufactured and distributed asbestos-containing products throughout Jefferson County.

The suit was filed with the Jefferson County District Court on Aug. 28, 2007.

The plaintiff's original petition says the 50 defendants entangled in his lawsuit were negligent for failing to adequately test their asbestos-laced products before flooding the market with dangerous goods and warn the consumer of the dangers of asbestos exposure.

Some of the defendants listed in the suit include aerospace giant Lockheed Martin, Viacom and iron supplier Zurn Industries.

In addition, the petition faults Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing Corp. (3M Corporation) and American Optical Corp. for producing defective masks that failed to "provide respiratory protection."

Although Williams sued and received a claim while he was alive, the suit says, "Plaintiff now seeks damages against defendants not released in the previous actions pursuant to Pustejovsky v. Rapid-American Corp."

"The court must apply a separate accrual rule in these cases because a single action rule would forbid a second suit and in doing so force the asbestos plaintiff to file premature litigation on speculative claims, which the court in Pustejovsky notes is neither efficient or desirable," the suit said.

Medical documents attached to the suit indicated Williams was "a heavy smoker."

"In this case, it is my opinion that both asbestos and tobacco were causative agents of Mr. Williams' lung cancer," said Dr. Steven Haber in the medical documents.

The plaintiff 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.

Judge Gary Sanderson, 60th District Court, has been assigned to the case.

Case No. B179-915

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