Family claims asbestos caused man's cancer

David Yates Sep. 6, 2007, 9:48am

From 1977 to 1985, Ray Fontenot Sr. worked as an oil handler for the Sabine Towing and Transportation Company. Fontenot, who had a 40 pack-year smoking history, died of lung cancer in 2002.

Now, his benefactor, Linda O'Connor, is suing Sabine Towing, claiming the local company exposed Fontenot to asbestos dust during his eight-year tenure -- "playing a part in producing his lung cancer."

Through Provost Umphrey attorney David Wilson, O'Connor filed her asbestos lawsuit with the Jefferson County District Court on Sept. 5.

According to the plaintiff's original petition, from 1977 to 1985 Fontenot was employed by Sabine Towing "as an oiler handling on-site cargo owned�by the defendant.

"While Fontenot was working aboard (Sabine Towing) vessels, he was exposed to asbestos dust and/or fibers," the suit said. "Further, plaintiff would show that Fontenot sustained severe and permanent personal injuries from said exposure."

Medical documents attached to the suit indicated the majority of Fontenot's asbestos exposure came during the "lengthy years" he served as a Merchant Marine. He was around 73 years of age when he died.

The medical documents, supplied by the Texas Occupational Medicine Institute, also stated Fontenot had a 40 pack-year smoking history.

O'Connor is suing for Fontenot's past physical pain, mental anguish, lost wages, physical impairment and medical expenses, plus funeral expenses.

Judge Bob Wortham, 58th Judicial District, will preside over the case.

Case No, A179-945

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