First asbestos case of '05 filed in Madison County

Steve Gonzalez Jan. 5, 2005, 3:54pm

Madison County Circuit Court's first asbestos case of 2005 was filed by Illinois resident Daisy Gardner, who claims she was diagnosed with mesothelioma on Aug. 10, 2004, after being exposed to asbestos products dating back to 1949.

Represented by Jack Daugherty and Eric Jackstadt of SimmonsCooper of East Alton, Gardner filed suit Jan. 3.

Gardner has named 113 defendants, including AW Chesterton, AutoZone, DaimlerChrysler, General Motors, John Crane and The Mead Corporation.

Gardner claims that she was employed from 1949 to 1950 as an office clerk in various locations throughout Illinois, while her spouse, Richard, was employed as a railroad engineer and carpenter at various locations throughout the state.

Her husband would often work with and around asbestos-containing products, and the dust created by working with and around asbestos would permeate his clothing, Gardner claims.

She alleges the dust on her husband's clothing contained asbestos fibers, which he would carry home on his clothes and would again become airborne.

During non-occupational work projects, such as home and car repairs, along with home remodeling work, she was exposed to and inhaled, ingested or otherwise absorbed asbestos fibers emanating from certain products she and her husband were working with or around, according to the suit.

“The plaintiff’s exposure to and inhalation, ingestion or absorption of the asbestos fibers was completely foreseeable and could or should have been anticipated by the defendants,” the complaint states.

“The defendants knew or should have known that the asbestos fibers contained in their products has a toxic, poisonous and highly deleterious effect upon the health of persons inhaling, ingesting or otherwise absorbing them," according to Gardner's suit.

Gardner states that the defendants failed to exercise ordinary care and caution for her safety by including asbestos in their products, even though it was completely foreseeable and anticipated that people working around asbestos would ingest, inhale or absorb it.

Gardner also alleges that the defendants included asbestos in their products when adequate substitutes for the asbestos in their product was available, and failed to provide any or adequate instructions concerning the safe methods of working with and around asbestos.

She continues to claim that the defendants failed to require and advise their employees of hygiene practices designed to reduce or prevent carrying asbestos fibers home.

As a result of the alleged negligence, Gardner claims she was exposed to fibers containing asbestos, and developed a disease caused only by asbestos which has disabled and disfigured her. She seeks damages to help pay for the cost of her treatment.

Gardner also suffers "great physical pain and mental anguish, and also will be hindered and prevented from pursuing her normal course of employment, thereby losing large sums of money," according to the complaint.

She is seeking at least $50,000 in damages for negligence, willful and wanton acts, conspiracy, and negligent spoliation of evidence among other charges.

“In addition to compensatory damages, an award of punitive damages is appropriate and necessary in order to punish the defendants for their willful, wanton, intentional and reckless misconduct and to deter them and others from engaging in like misconduct in the future,” the complaint states.

The case has been assigned to Circuit Court Judge Daniel Stack.

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