Family of Pennsylvania worker files asbestos complaint

Steve Gonzalez May 21, 2007, 7:00am

The estate of Barbara Clarke filed an asbestos suit against 44 defendant corporations in Madison County Circuit Court May 16, claiming she was exposed to asbestos while employed as a production worker, machinist and engineering draftsman from 1961-1995.

The suit brought by her daughter, Elsie Eberhard, states that Clarke resided in Pennsylvania.

Some of the defendants include Bondex, Cooper Industries, Ford Motor Company, General Electric, General Motors, John Crane, Kelly Moore Paint and Thyssenkrupp AG.

According to the suit, Clarke was diagnosed with mesothelioma on Jan. 26, 2005, and died on May 25, 2005.

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

The complaint alleges that defendants failed to require and advise their employees of hygiene practices designed to reduce or prevent carrying asbestos fibers home.

Eberhard claims the defendants included asbestos in their products when they knew asbestos fibers would have a highly deleterious effect on the health of people absorbing them, included asbestos in their products when adequate substitutes were available, failed to provide any warnings to people working with or around asbestos and failed to conduct tests on asbestos-containing products in order to determine the hazards to workers.

As a result of the alleged negligence, Eberhard claims Clarke was exposed to fibers containing asbestos and developed a disease caused only by asbestos which disabled and disfigured her.

She also claims that she has sought, but has been unable to obtain, full disclosure of relevant documents and information from the defendants leading her 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.

She claims that as a result of each defendant breaching its duty to preserve material evidence by destroying documents and information she 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.

Eberhard claims that prior to her death Clarke experienced great pain and mental anguish, became liable for medical expenses and lost large sums of money she otherwise would have earned.

She claims the family has been deprived of her means and support and also has lost the society of Clarke.

Eberhard also claims the family spent substantial sums of money for her funeral and burial.

Represented by Amy Garrett, John Barnerd and Perry Browder of SimmonsCooper in East Alton, Eberhard is seeking damages in excess of $700,000, plus punitive damages in an amount to punish the defendants for their alleged misconduct.

The case has been assigned to Circuit Judge Daniel Stack.

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