Immediate trials sought in Madison County by mesothelioma sufferers

Steve Gonzalez May 22, 2008, 10:17am


Three living mesothelioma victims who filed suit in Madison County May 16 are asking Circuit Judge Daniel J. Stack to grant their motions for an immediate setting of trial date.

Represented by Barry Julian of Alton, George Mielke, Stanley O'Day and Stanley Kaminski each claim their physicians have indicated they have a very short period of time to live.

The plaintiffs, whose residences are not identified in the complaints, claim that a provision in the Illinois constitution guarantees that a litigant has the right to "obtain justice by law, freely, completely, and promptly."

The litigants also claim that all general discovery in their cases is complete and point to a previous order issued by Stack in which the judge said he would consider cases out of random drawing based upon hardships.

The plaintiffs argue that a 1983 Second District appellate ruling in Froud v. Celotex could cause their claims for punitive damages to be denied unless their cases are tried prior to their deaths.

They claim they can provide Stack with "clear and convincing evidence" that they have "substantial claims for punitive damages."

The plaintiffs claim they will each suffer "great prejudice and irreparable harm" if they cannot try their cases before they die.

They ask Stack to add them to the Jan. 12, 2009 docket in order to reasonably ensure that they survive to prosecute their claims and personally appear before a jury.

Stack set the motions for a hearing at 10 a.m. on June 27.

Mielke filed suit against 102 defendant corporations alleging he was exposed to asbestos and asbestos containing products while employed as an electrician from 1956 to 1997 at various residential and industrial locations throughout Illinois.

He claims he was diagnosed with mesothelioma in December and subsequently learned his disease was wrongfully caused.

Kaminski names 101 defendant corporations alleging he was diagnosed with mesothelioma on April 4.

He claims he was exposed to asbestos while working as a laborer and maintenance mechanic at various industrial locations throughout Illinois from 1954 through 2001.

O'Day claims he was employed at various jobs throughout his career, including the Navy Reserves in 1949, residential construction from 1950 to 1970 and at various industrial sites in Illinois, Louisiana and Texas from 1958 to 1963.

O'Day names 59 defendant corporations and claims he was diagnosed with mesothelioma on March 12.

The plaintiffs also claim they were exposed to asbestos during non-occupational work projects including home and automotive repairs, maintenance and remodeling,

They claim 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.

They also allege 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 trio also claim that the defendants failed to require and advise employees of hygiene practices designed to reduce or prevent carrying asbestos fibers home which them to develop a disease caused only by asbestos which has disabled and disfigured them.

They also claim that they have sought, but has been unable to obtain, full disclosure of relevant documents and information from some defendants leading them to believe those defendants destroyed documents related to asbestos.

They claim that as a result of each defendant breaching its duty to preserve material evidence by destroying documents and information they have been prejudiced and impaired in proving claims against all potential parties.

In addition to Mielke's claims, his wife, Joann Mielke, claims she has been damaged alleging the defendants have interfered with the relationship she had with her husband.

She claims the defendants have deprived her of all the elements of married life she was accustomed to receiving including the loss of her husband's support, devotion, care, society, consortium and other concomitants of married life.

Each case is seeking compensatory and punitive damages in excess of $400,000, plus costs.

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