Ohio worker's estate claims 73 defendants negligent for asbestos-related death

Steve Gonzalez May 6, 2008, 9:15am

The estate of an Ohio man who died from mesothelioma filed an asbestos complaint in Madison County Circuit Court May 5, alleging his disease was wrongfully caused.

According to the complaint, Paul Bowen was employed from 1951 to 2004 as a laborer, truck driver, kiln operator, miner and mechanic at various locations.

Bowen's wife was employed as a machine operator, maintenance worker, finisher and striper at various locations.

Bowen's estate claims that his wife would on many occasions work with and around asbestos and asbestos-containing materials.

Dust created by working with and around asbestos and asbestos-containing products would permeate the person and clothing of the decedent's wife, the complaint states.

His estate claims his wife would carry the asbestos dust on her clothing home with him where it would again become airborne.

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

Bowen's estate also alleges he was exposed to asbestos during non-occupational work projects including home and automotive repairs, maintenance and remodeling.

Bowen was diagnosed with mesothelioma on Oct. 8, 2007, and died on Dec. 31.

The suit names 73 defendants that include Bondex International, CBS, ConocoPhillips, Ford Motor Company, General Motors, Goodyear, John Crane, Owens-Illinois, Pharmacia, Shell Chemical and Yarway Corp.

"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.

The estate 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.

Bowen's estate 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.

The estate further 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, Bowen's estate claims he was exposed to fibers containing asbestos and developed a disease caused only by asbestos which disabled and disfigured him prior to his death.

Bowen's estate 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.

The estate alleges that as a result of each defendant breaching its duty to preserve material evidence by destroying documents and information it 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.

The estate is seeking at least $250,000 in compensatory 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.

Bowen's estate is represented by Nicholas Angelides of SimmonsCooper in East Alton.

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

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