Between the years of 1964 to 1985 Louie Fittz claims he worked at several area refineries. Now residing in Deweyville, Fittz says he was recently diagnosed with an asbestos-related disease and is suing the American Optical Corp., along with 15 other companies, for "negligently exposing him to asbestos," while "fraudulently concealing" the mineral's latent dangers.
Fittz and his wife Ophelia filed their personal injury lawsuit with the Jefferson County District Court on July 23. Besides American Optical, the suit also names E.I. Dupont De Nemours, General Electric, Viacom and Zurn Industries as defendants.
According to the plaintiffs' original petition, Fittz, 66, worked as a pipefitter and welder for area plants while he resided in Jefferson County. As part of his duties, Fittz claims he was required to "handle large quantities" of asbestos products that were manufactured, marketed and sold by the defendants.
"These asbestos-containing productsÃ¯Â¿Â½caused Fittz as a user or consumer physical harm over the years, and as a result of breathing or ingesting into his body the asbestos dustÃ¯Â¿Â½he sustained severe, permanent and disabling injuries," the suit said.
The suit says on Jan. 3, 2007, Fittz learned that he had contracted a "malignant asbestos-related disease." The suit, however, does not specify the nature of his disease.
The couples' suit faults the defendants for failing to "guard" him against the harm caused by their products, failing to test their products before marketing them, and concealing information regarding to the dangers of their products.
"Defendants were negligent in investigating and thereafter failing to warn plaintiff of the severe risk to health posed by asbestos exposure and inhalation," the suit said, adding that the defendants purposely ignored scientific literature warning of the hazards of asbestos.
The plaintiffs are suing for loss of earning capacity, pain and suffering, mental anguish and medical expenses.
The plaintiffs are requesting a trial by jury and are represented by attorney Paul D. Henderson.
Judge Bob Wortham, 58th Judicial District, will preside over the case.
Case No. A179-700