Missouri engineer files asbestos claim in Madison County

Steve Gonzalez Aug. 15, 2007, 4:00am

A Missouri man suffering from mesothelioma filed an asbestos suit in Madison County Circuit Court Aug. 10, claiming his disease was wrongfully caused.

Bob Wheelis claims he was employed from 1961-1999 as an operating engineer in various locations throughout Missouri and Illinois.

Wheelis claims that during the course of his employment and during home and automotive repairs he was exposed to and inhaled, ingested or otherwise absorbed asbestos fibers emanating from certain products he was working with and around.

He names 92 defendant corporations that include Anheuser-Busch, ConocoPhillips, Ford Motor Company, General Motors, Goodyear, Honeywell International, Ingersoll-Rand, John Crane, Owens-Illinois, and Union Carbide.

"The plaintiff's exposure 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.

Wheelis claims the defendants knew or should have known that the asbestos fibers contained in their products had a toxic, poisonous and highly deleterious effect upon the health of people.

According to Wheelis he first became aware that he suffered from mesothelioma in June.

Wheelis alleges that the defendants included asbestos in their products even when adequate substitutes were available and failed to provide any or adequate instructions concerning the safe methods of working with and around asbestos.

He also claims that the defendants failed to require and advise employees of hygiene practices designed to reduce or prevent carrying asbestos fibers home.

As a result of the alleged negligence, Wheelis claims he was exposed to fibers containing asbestos. He developed a disease caused only by asbestos which has disabled and disfigured him, the complaint states.

He seeks damages to help pay for the cost of his treatment.

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

He is seeking at least $250,000 in damages for negligence, willful and wanton acts, conspiracy, and negligent spoliation of evidence among other allegations.

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

Wheelis is represented by John Wagner, John Barnerd, Perry Browder, and Trent Miracle of SimmonsCooper in East Alton.

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

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Ford Motor Company
1 American Rd
Dearborn, MI 48126

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