Asbestos suit names 72 corporations as defendants

Marilyn Tennissen Aug. 11, 2008, 10:27am

Bryan Blevins

Provost Umphrey attorney Bryan Blevins has filed an asbestos suit that names 72 corporations as defendants, court papers show.

Pam Wagner, individually and as executrix of the estate of Boyd Lynn Wagner, is the plaintiff in the suit filed Aug. 8 in Jefferson County District Court.

According to court documents, Boyd Wagner was a sandblaster and painter who worked with or around asbestos and asbestos-containing products that caused him to suffer from asbestos-related diseases and other industrial dust diseases.

The suit alleges that defendants' products were unreasonably defective and dangerous.

Among the 72 defendants: A.O. Smith Corp., A.W. Chesterton, American Optical, Atlantic Richfield, BASF, BP, Chevron, Exxon Mobil, General Electric, Georgia Pacific, Goodyear, Gulf Oil, Ingersoll Rand, Kelley-Moore, 3M, Diamond Shamrock, Sinclair Oil, Shell Oil, Texaco, Total Petrochemicals, Uniroyal, Union Carbide and Zurn Industries.

Two dozen defendants, listed as designers and manufacturers of asbestos-containing products, were negligent in failing to test their products before introducing them into the stream of commerce, the original complaint alleges.

Several other defendants were named in the suit as sellers or distributors of the unreasonably dangerous and defective products.

"Plaintiffs additionally would show that defendants were guilty of negligence and gross negligence, which was a proximate cause of the injuries and damages suffered by the decedent and plaintiffs," the complaint states.

The suit goes on to allege that defendants failed to adequately warn of the dangers of asbestos and continued to manufacture and distribute the products after the hazards of asbestos exposure were "well known and documented in the medical and scientific literature."

With respect to Minnesota Mining & Manufacturing (3M) and American Optical Corp., the plaintiff claims the companies' respiratory protection devices failed to provide protection and are a proximate and producing cause of Wagner's disease.

In addition, the suit alleges that Metropolitan Life Insurance Co. negligently suppressed and concealed its knowledge of the "outrageous danger" in the use of asbestos products through a patter of concerted activity.

Defendants including Bechtel, Fluor Maintenance, Foster Wheeler Constructors and other construction companies exposed Wagner and others to asbestos by working with the mineral in close proximity to them on various job sites.

"Decedent was exposed to asbestos dust while working on defendants' premises," the complaint states. "He suffered a multitude of severe and incapacitation injuries (including breathing difficulties) as a result of his exposure to asbestos and asbestos-containing products."

The defendants negligently cause or negligently permitted asbestos and asbestos-containing products to be used on their premises despite the fact that they knew the products were "carcinogenic, poisonous, toxic and extremely dangerous to human health," the suit alleges.

Defendants' acts, wrongs or omissions alleged in the suit include:

  • Failing to provide a safe place to work;
  • Failing to warn decedent of the hazardous conditions existing on its premises;
  • Failing to warn decedent that asbestos particle could cause asbestos-related lung disease as well as other diseases and complications;
  • Failing to provide protective garments, equipment or respirators that could have protected decedent;
  • Failing to provide adequate ventilation
  • Ordering, specifying, instructing, requiring or permitting the installation, application and/or removal of asbestos in an unreasonable manner;
  • Failing to place warning labels on the containers of asbestos products;
  • Failing to timely adopt and enforce a safety plan and/or method of handling asbestos or products;
  • Failing to implement work practice controls such as the use of water to control the release of asbestos fibers into the air; and
  • Failing to follow various governmental regulations with respect to worker asbestos exposure.

    "Plaintiff invokes the doctrine of res ipsa loquitor and would show the court that the injuries and damages suffered to and by the decedent are not the type that would normally occur in the absence of negligence," the complaint states.

    The suit alleges that each of the defendants is guilty of gross negligence and malice.

    Plaintiff is seeking physical pain and suffering, mental anguish, lost wages, disfigurement, physical impairment, medical bills and funeral expenses.

    Pam Wagner is seeking damages for loss of consortium as well as exemplary damages.

    The case has been assigned to District Judge Bob Wortham.

    Case No. A182-203

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