O'Brien asbestos trial set to begin

Steve Gonzalez Dec. 8, 2004, 7:30am

A trial date for Michael O'Brien, an Illinoisan suffering from mesothelioma, has been set exactly a year after the former sheet metal and postal worker was diagnosed with a deadly disease caused by asbestos exposure.

O’Brien, represented by John Longos of Glen Carbon, named 75 companies as defendants when he filed his suit April 28. His trial is set to go before Madison County Circuit Judge Daniel Stack Dec. 13.

Employed from 1961 to 2003 in various jobs throughout the state, O’Brien is seeking economic damages in excess of $50,000 as well as punitive and exemplary damages in excess of $50,000.

Asbestos cases rarely go to trial. Many are settled out of court and others are dismissed. A plaintiff in a recent Madison County asbestos case, Luke Lindau of Arlington Heights, settled his case for $4 million.

“During the course of his employment, the plaintiff was exposed to and inhaled, ingested or otherwise absorbed large amounts of asbestos fibers emanating from certain products he was working with and around which were manufactured, sold, distributed or installed by the defendants," the complaint states.

O’Brien claims the defendants had a duty to exercise reasonable care and caution for his safety and others working around asbestos containing products.

The complaint states that the defendants failed to exercise ordinary care and caution for the safety of the plaintiff in some of the following ways:

  • Even though it was completely foreseeable, defendants failed to warn people about the dangers of asbestos;

  • Included asbestos in products when the defendants knew or should have known that the asbestos fibers would have a toxic, poisonous and highly deleterious effect;

  • Included asbestos in products when adequate substitutes for asbestos in them was available;

  • Failed to provide adequate instructions concerning the safe methods of working with and around products; and

  • Failed to conduct tests on the asbestos-containing products manufactured, sold, delivered or installed by the defendants in order to determine the hazards to which workers such as the plaintiff might be exposed.

    As a result of one or more of the omissions on part of the defendants, O’Brien claims he has had to undergo costly medical treatment and that he suffers great physical pain and mental anguish as a result of his asbestos exposure.

    The complaint also states that O'Brien has been hindered and prevented from pursuing his normal course of employment, thereby losing large sums of money which otherwise would have accrued to him.

    04 L 404

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