Out-of town lawyers file suit for hopeless Kentucky man in SCC

Steve Gonzalez Jul. 26, 2005, 5:43am

John Guerry, III

Bruce Halstead

Paducah, Ky. resident Robert Berry filed a nine-count Federal Employers’ Liability Act (FELA) and asbestos lawsuit in St. Clair County Circuit Court July 12 seeking damages in excess of $1 million claiming he suffers from an asbestos-related disease, including hopelessness.

Berry claims that from 1945 to 1983, while working as an engineer for Illinois Central Railroad (ICR) in Paducah, he was required to work with and in the vicinity of toxic materials including asbestos and asbestos-containing products and materials which caused severe and permanent injuries.

According to the complaint, ICR violated FELA by failing to provide Berry with a safe place to work, suitable tools and failed to warn of the hazardous effects of the toxic substances used at the railroad.

Berry also claims ICR failed to operate the locomotive repair facility in a safe and reasonable manner and test asbestos containing products to determine they were ultra-hazardous. He also alleges ICR allowed unsafe practices to become standard practice.

As a result, Berry suffered great pain, extreme nervousness and mental anguish and verily believes that his injuries and disability are permanent in nature and that he will be forced to suffer the same for the remainder of his life, the suit claims.

“Berry’s enjoyment of life and earning capacity have been greatly reduced, and he has an increased risk of developing cancer and his life span has been greatly shortened,” the complaint states.

He also claims his illness has diminished his ability to render services, society, affection, counseling and support to his household.

“Berry’s physical health is deteriorating rapidly and he is suffering mental anguish and hopelessness as a result of his injuries.”

The complaint also names four co-defendants, American Standard, Garlock, MetLife, and Owens-Illinois alleging they were also negligent for Berry's illness.

He claims the co-defendants failed to advise him of the dangerous characteristics of their asbestos products, failed to place any warnings on their products, failed to publish a safety plan and a safe method of handling their products and did not recommend methods to improve the work environment.

According to Berry, the co-defendants also did not develop alternative products, continued to use a known cancer–causing product, and failed to provide information or warning to consumers in compliance with their continuing duty to warn.

Sarah Berry also is seeking damages for losing the valuable services of her husband.

“The development of asbestos-related diseases has caused disintegration and deterioration of the family unit and the relationships resulting in enhanced anguish, depression, and other symptoms of psychological stress disorder,” the complaint states.

The Berrys are represented by John Guerry, III of Motley Rice in South Carolina, Bruce Halstead of Jones & Granger of Houston, Texas, and William Gavin of Belleville.

05 L 409 (20th Circuit)

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