Second asbestos suit filed on pipe-fitter's behalf names 19 defendants

David Yates Jul. 21, 2008, 7:38am

Bryan Blevins

During his career as a pipe-fitter, Gliese Bergeron worked around and breathed asbestos dust. When he developed an "asbestos-related disease," he sued and received a claim.

Now he's seeking additional monetary compensation for a "different malignant asbestos-related injury," court papers show.

Provost Umphrey attorney Bryan Blevins filed suit on Bergeron's behalf against the A.O. Smith Corp. and 18 other companies. The lawsuit was filed July 17 in Jefferson County District Court.

Bergeron's petition says the A.O. Smith Corp., along with the 18 other companies named in the suit, knowingly and maliciously manufactured and distributed asbestos-containing products throughout Jefferson County.

Bergeron worked as a pipe-fitter and maintenance planner for various employers, "which caused him to suffer from…industrial dust diseases caused by breathing the asbestos-containing products," the suit says.

However, the complaint fails to list specific dates and locations of Bergeron's employments.

The suit further alleges the defendants in the lawsuit were negligent for failing to adequately test their asbestos-laced products before flooding the market with dangerous goods and for failing to warn the consumer of the dangers of asbestos exposure.

Some of the defendants listed in the lawsuit include the CBS Corporation 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 Bergeron has already sued and received a claim, the suit says, "Plaintiff now seeks damages against defendants not released in the previous actions pursuant to Pustejovsky v. Rapid-American Corp."

In the precedent-setting Pustejovsky opinion in 2000, the Texas Supreme Court held that a victim of asbestos may later have a second lawsuit for an asbestos-related cancer if he develops the cancer at a future date.

The opinion reversed a long history of Texas cases holding that a person may only bring one lawsuit for an asbestos-related injury, even if he develops a second, catastrophic asbestos-related cancer at a much later date.

"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.

Bergeron is suing for exemplary damages, plus 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 Bob Wortham of the 58th Judicial District has been assigned to the case.

Case No. A182-077

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