Husband's laundry blamed for asbestos exposure

David Yates Oct. 3, 2007, 11:34am

On the surface,laundry doesn't appear to be an occupational hazard. However, a retired plumber is claiming his on the job asbestos exposure inadvertently contaminated his wife, causing her untimely death.

Representing the estate of Maxine Johnson, Elroyce Johnson filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Amoco Oil Co. and 58 other companies on Oct. 1 in the Jefferson County District Court.

According to the plaintiff's original petition, Maxine was married to Elroyce from 1961 until her death in 2005. He worked at various chemical plants, refineries and utility companies in Jefferson County and surrounding counties as a plumber, pipe fitter and carpenter, before retiring in 1994.

"During his career, Mr. Johnson was exposed to asbestos-containing products and exposed Ms. Johnson to asbestos fibers on his clothes when he came home from work," the suit said. "Mrs. Johnson contracted lung cancer as a direct and proximate result of Mr. Johnson's on the job exposure to asbestos-containing products at�various facilities."

The suit goes on to allege Maxine's "occupational disease" proved fatal. She died of lung cancer on Oct. 1, 2005. "(Maxine) was exposed to asbestos as a result of her husband's work as craftsmen and construction tradesmen at the (defendant's facilities)..."

"Plaintiffs assert a claim based on strict products liability against the�Defendants and would show that their asbestos-containing products were unreasonably dangerous and defective," the suit said.

"Defendants were negligent in failing to warn the Plaintiff or her husband of the severe risk to health posed by asbestos exposure and inhalation and were negligent in failing to protect and properly instruct the Plaintiff so as to prevent their exposure to the defective and unreasonably dangerous asbestos products being handled by themselves and others on the different premises," the suit said.

The suit further alleges that the defendants fraudulently and maliciously conspired among themselves to conceal "damaging" asbestos research.

"The Defendants committed spoliation of evidence as a further part of their conspiracy," the suit said. "Having determined that scientific and medical research they possessed or created or knew of was potentially damaging to their defense of meritorious claims such as this, Defendants acted in concert to destroy or conceal such information and prevent it from falling into the hands of their victims.

"That conduct was an intentional interference with the Plaintiffs' prospective civil action, being no less than a mutilation of the community's rational process of proof. Having adopted a code of secrecy and suppression, Defendants joined together in maintaining a united front in the suppression of evidence�"

The plaintiffs are suing for wrongful death damages and exemplary damages.

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

Judge Milton Shuffield, 136th Judicial District, will preside over the case.

Case No. D180-439

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