Asbestos plaintiff seeks deferred docket

Steve Gonzalez Jun. 21, 2006, 8:09am

Christina Nielsen

Andrew O'Brien

Donald Crawford of Fairview Heights filed suit in Madison County Circuit Court June 9, seeking to be placed on the asbestos deferred docket.

According to his complaint, Crawford was employed by Union Electric from 1949 until 1988 as a millwright and engineer at various locations including the Venice Powerhouse in Venice.

Crawford claims during the course of his employment he was exposed to and inhaled, ingested or otherwise absorbed large amounts of asbestos fibers emanating from asbestos-containing products he was working with or around including pipe covering, block insulation, mud/cement and fireproofing.

According to the complaint, Crawford also worked with mastics, gaskets, packing pipe, wall compound, plaster, floor and ceiling tile, siding, shingles, roofing, friction material, raw asbestos fiber and machinery with asbestos supplied by the 49 defendants.

Some of the defendants include: General Electric, John Crane, Honeywell International, A.W. Chesterton, Union Carbide and Viacom.

"Crawford's exposure to and inhalation, ingestion, or absorption of the asbestos fibers emanating from Defendants' asbestos or asbestos-containing products was foreseeable and should have been anticipated by the Defendants'," the complaint states.

He claims the defendants knew or should have known that the asbestos fibers contained in their products would be harmful and damaging to the health of people inhaling them.

Crawford claims that on July 24, 2004, he first became aware that he had developed asbestosis and that it was wrongfully caused.

According to the Mayo Clinic, asbestosis is a breathing disorder caused by inhaling high levels of asbestos fibers. Prolonged accumulation of these fibers in lungs can lead to lung tissue scarring and diminished breathing capacity. Signs and symptoms of asbestosis usually don't appear until years after exposure. But once apparent, the condition often worsens and can lead to disability and even death if exposure to asbestos continues.

Crawford claims that the defendants failed to exercise ordinary care and caution for his safety by:

  • Including asbestos in their products, even though it was foreseeable and could or should have been anticipated that people working with or around the products would inhale or ingest large amounts of asbestos;

  • Including asbestos in their products when they knew that the asbestos fibers would be harmful and damaging to the health of people inhaling or ingesting them;

  • Including asbestos in their products when adequate substitutes were available;

  • Not providing warnings to people working with or around asbestos;

  • Not providing any or adequate instructions concerning the safe methods of working with or around asbestos; and

  • Not conducting tests in the asbestos or asbestos-containing products to determine the hazards to which workers might be exposed while working with the products.

    Crawford claims that his illness has caused him to suffer extensive disability and disfigurement, physical pain and mental anguish, including mental pain and anguish caused by his knowledge of the increased risk of cancer, has become liable for medical expenses and has been prevented and hindered in the pursuit of employment, thereby losing money he otherwise would have earned.

    Crawford is seeking damages against each defendant in excess of $75,000 totaling $3,675,000 plus costs of the suit.

    He is represented by Andrew O'Brien, Christopher Thoron, Andrew Schwartzkopf, Christina Nielsen and Bartholomew Baumstark of the O'Brien Law Firm. Gerald Fitzgerald also of the firm has a pro hac vice motion pending to assist in the case.

    The case has been assigned to Circuit Judge Dan Stack, who handles all of the asbestos cases in the county.

    Asbestos is a natural mineral product that's resistant to heat and corrosion. It was used extensively in the past in the building and manufacturing industries. Some of its more common uses were in pipe and duct insulation, fire-retardant materials, brake and clutch linings, cement, and some vinyl floor tiles.

    06 L 510

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