Bryan Blevins

Throughout his career as a pipefitter, Earnest L. Edwards was in direct contact with asbestos. When he developed an "asbestos-related disease," he sued and received a claim.

Now deceased, Edwards' family is seeking compensation for a "different malignant asbestos-related injury," which they claim prematurely ended his life.

Provost Umphrey attorney Bryan Blevins filed suit on Edwards' behalf against the A.O. Smith Corp. and 34 other companies. The suit was filed in the Jefferson County District Court on May 7. Betty Palmer is representing Edwards' estate.

According to the plaintiff's petition, the A.O. Smith Corp., along with the 34 other companies named in the suit, knowingly and maliciously manufactured and distributed asbestos-containing products throughout Jefferson County.

Edwards worked as a pipefitter and general laborer for various employers, "which caused him to suffer from…industrial dust diseases caused by breathing the asbestos-containing products," the suit said.

The suit 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 suit include aerospace giant Lockheed Martin 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 Edwards 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 disease may later have a second lawsuit for an asbestos-related cancer if he develops the cancer at a future date. The opinion overruled 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.

Edwards' family 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 Gary Sanderson, 60th Judicial District, has been assigned to the case.

Case No. B181-718

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