Orange woman sues 39 companies for benefactor's asbestos exposure

By David Yates | Jun 11, 2008

Lou Thompson Black

On behalf of the late Ronald Duane Deem, Shirley Deem is suing A.W. Chesterton and 38 other companies for conspiring to conceal the hazards of asbestos to human health and purposely inflicting Ronald Deem with an asbestos-related disease.

Seeking compensation for his alleged exposure to asbestos , Deem's personal-injury lawsuit was filed with the Orange County District Court on May 23.

A mineral fiber that has been used commonly in a variety of building construction materials as insulation and as a fire-retardant, asbestos has been utilized by mankind for more than 2,000 years, said the Environmental Protection Agency's Web site.

According to the plaintiffs' original petition, companies such as Viacom, General Electric and Zurn Industries knew that the asbestos products they manufactured would hit the market without inspection for defects.

"Defendants knowingly conspired among themselves to cause Deem's injuries, diseases, and illness and/or death by exposing him to asbestos," the suit said. "Defendants committed conspiracy by willfully misrepresenting and suppressing the truth as to the risks and dangers associated with asbestos."

The suit says the defendants have been in possession of medical and scientific data exposing the health risks of asbestos for decades, but conspired among themselves to suppress the information.

The suit indicates Deem was most likely exposed to asbestos while working at shipyards, steel mills, refineries, paper mills, chemical plants, the military and other facilities in the U.S. However, the suit does not give specifics on the location or time of his employment.

"Deem has sustained damages including injuries…and has been deprived of the opportunity of informed free choice," the suit said. "Each defendant violated federal and state regulations relating to asbestos exposure."

The plaintiff is suing for 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, including homecare costs.

She also seeks punitive and exemplary damages. "Plaintiff will rely on a fair and impartial jury to provide compensation…," the suit said.

Brent Coon & Associates attorney Lou Thompson Black represents the plaintiff.

According to the Brent Coon & Associates Web site, Lou Thompson Black is the managing partner of the Houston office of Brent Coon and Associates. She manages hundreds of asbestos cancer cases filed in various jurisdictions and states. Black's primary practice area is toxic tort law, including products liability, premises liability and employer liability.

The case has been assigned to Judge Patrick Clark, 128th Judicial District.

Case No. A-080205-c

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