Retired Florida worker migrates north to file asbestos suit

Steve Gonzalez Dec. 28, 2006, 3:28am

A Florida man diagnosed with mesothelioma filed suit in Madison County Circuit Court Dec. 21, claiming 111 defendant corporations are responsible for his illness.

Louis Holzworth claims he was employed from late 1943 to 1985 as a molder, manager, factory worker, warehouse foreman, cab driver and postal carrier at various locations.

He claims his wife Joan was employed from 1959 to 1985 as an inspector with Amphenol Corporation and that she would carry home asbestos dust on her clothes that would become airborne again when she came home.

"Dust created by working with and around asbestos and asbestos-containing products would permeate the person and clothing of the plaintiff's family members," the complaint states. "This dust contained asbestos fiber."

"The plaintiff would be repeatedly exposed to this asbestos dust from his family member's person and clothing," the complaint states.

He claims he also was exposed to asbestos during non-occupational work projects including home and automotive repairs, maintenance and remodeling.

Holzworth was diagnosed with mesothelioma in August and subsequently became aware his illness was wrongfully caused, the suit claims.

The complaint alleges that 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, Holzworth claims he was exposed to fibers containing asbestos and developed a disease caused only by asbestos which disabled and disfigured him.

Holzworth also claims that he has sought, but been unable to obtain, full disclosure of relevant documents and information from the defendants leading him to believe the defendants destroyed documents related to asbestos.

"It was foreseeable to a reasonable person/entity in the respective positions of defendants, that said documents and information constituted evidence, which was material to potential civil litigation-namely asbestos litigation," the complaint states.

He claims as a result of each defendant breaching its duty to preserve material evidence by destroying documents and information he has been prejudiced and impaired in proving claims against all potential parties.

"Plaintiff has been caused to suffer damages in the form of impaired ability to recover against defendants and lost or reduced compensation from other potentially liable parties in this litigation," the complaint states.

Represented by Nicholas Angelides, Perry Browder and John Barnerd, Tim Thompson and Richard Saville of SimmonsCooper in East Alton, Holzworth is seeking compensatory damages in excess of $700,000, plus punitive damages.

"An award of punitive damages is appropriate and necessary in order to punish defendants for their willful, wanton, intentional and/or reckless misconduct and to deter defendants and others from engaging in like misconduct in the future," the complaint states.

The case has been assigned to Circuit Judge Dan Stack.

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