Step-father's clothing carried asbestos fibers, suit claims

Steve Gonzalez Apr. 8, 2008, 1:18am

A Connecticut woman who suffers from mesothelioma filed suit against 52 defendants in Madison County Circuit Court April 4, alleging she was exposed to airborne asbestos fibers from her step-father's clothing.

Kimberly Kluntz claims her step-father has been employed as a machine operator at Unas Grinding since 1972.

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

Kluntz claims her step-father would carry the asbestos dust on his clothing home with him where it would again become airborne.

"The plaintiff would be repeatedly exposed to this asbestos dust from her step-father's person and clothing," the complaint states.

Kluntz was employed from 1989 through 2006 as a customer service supervisor at various locations in Illinois and Connecticut.

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

Kluntz was diagnosed with mesothelioma on Dec. 12, 2007, and subsequently became aware that her 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, Kluntz claims she was exposed to fibers containing asbestos, and developed a disease caused only by asbestos which has 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.

The suit claims that as a result of each defendant breaching its duty to preserve material evidence by destroying documents and information Kluntz 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 Jill Angle of SimmonsCooper in East Alton, Kluntz is seeking compensatory damages in excess of $200,000, 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 case has been assigned to Circuit Judge Dan Stack.

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