Galveston County asbestos suit names 22 companies as defendants

John Suayan, Galveston Bureau Sep. 15, 2009, 10:55am


GALVESTON - A Hays County woman is suing a number of companies after a relative of hers developed an illness reportedly linked to asbestos.

In a lawsuit filed Sept. 3, plaintiff Mary Ann Sparkman of Buda says Jesse Frederick Cruz of Galveston was exposed to asbestos-containing products and machinery during his time as a laborer for Todd Pacific Shipyards Corp.

The complaint, filed in Galveston County District Court two years after Cruz was diagnosed with a serious form of lung disease, names Todd Pacific Shipyards and 21 other companies as defendants.

They are classified either as a product manufacturer or an equipment manufacturer.

"Jesse Cruz was required to handle products containing asbestos and was exposed to other asbestos products present in the workplace," the original petition says.

"While performing his normal duties, Jesse Cruz came into contact with the asbestos products manufactured, sold, designed, supplied, distributed, mined, milled, relabeled, resold, processed, applied, or installed by the asbestos defendants, which caused severe, permanent disabling and injuries to (Jesse) Cruz and the plaintiff."

The plaintiff claims Cruz was deceived by defendants and was unaware of any hazards and defects associated with the products and machinery with which he was required to work.

"Jesse Cruz reasonably and in good faith relied upon the false and fraudulent representations, omissions, and concealment made by the defendants regarding the nature of their asbestos-containing products and machinery requiring or calling for the use of asbestos and asbestos-containing products," court papers say.

The suit presents nine counts of alleged wrongdoing against the defendants. Todd Pacific Shipyards and the equipment manufacturing defendants are charged extensively in an individual count of their own.

The defendants are also accused of enabling one another, according to the suit.

"The actions of all defendants aided, abetted, encouraged, induced, or directed the negligent and/or intentional acts of each and every other defendant," the suit says.

The plaintiff ultimately accuses the defendants of violating state and federal regulations relating to asbestos exposure.

"The plaintiffs are not making any claim under federal law; instead, the plaintiffs are using the violation of federal standards as proof of liability on their state-law theories," the suit says.

Plaintiff Sparkman is seeking punitive and exemplary damages and a jury trial.

She is represented by Houston attorneys James C. Ferrell and Bradlyn J. Cole of RG Taylor II PC in Houston.

Galveston County 212th District Court Judge Susan Criss is presiding over the case.

Case No. 09CV1601

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