Asbestos suit claims first- and second-hand exposure

Steve Gonzalez Jan. 16, 2008, 4:13am

A Georgia widower filed an asbestos suit against 84 defendant corporations in Madison County Circuit Court Jan. 11, alleging his late wife was exposed to airborne asbestos fibers from her stepfather's clothing.

Terry Jones alleges his wife Sherry was employed from 1974 to 2006 in clerical positions and her stepfather was employed in maintenance.

According to Jones, Sherry and her stepfather would on many occasions work with and around asbestos and asbestos-containing products.

"Dust created by working with and around asbestos and asbestos-containing products would permeate the person and clothing of the Decedent and her stepfather," the complaint states. "This dust contained asbestos fiber."

Jones claims Sherry's stepfather would carry the asbestos dust on his clothing home with him where it would again become airborne.

"The Decedent would be repeatedly exposed to this asbestos dust from her stepfather's person and clothing," the complaint states.

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

According to Jones, Sherry was diagnosed with mesothelioma on Feb. 8, 2006, and died 15 days later.

He 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.

Jones also 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.

Jones also claims that he has sought, but has 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 that 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.

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

Jones claims that prior to her death Sherry suffered great physical pain and mental anguish, which hindered and prevented her from pursuing her normal course of employment, causing her to lose large sums of money.

He is seeking at least $350,000 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.

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

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

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