Fairview Heights man's mesothelioma lawsuit settled Sunday

Christina Stueve Hodges Oct. 15, 2012, 8:15am



A Fairview Heights man's asbestos suit that went to trial on Friday in Madison County has settled.

Plaintiff's attorney Christian Hartley and defense attorney Eric Bergstrom presented opening arguments to jurors Friday morning in a case against defendants Ford Motor Co. and John Crane Co. They were sent home in the afternoon and were expected to return at 10 a.m. today.

Plaintiff Donald Lehr, who suffers from mesothelioma, had been expected to testify.

But, two sets of attorneys - one aimed at settling and another preparing for trial - worked the case over the weekend, according to Madison County Associate Judge Clarence Harrison.

"Once they're in trial, their schedule goes to whatever they need," said Harrison, who did not reveal what the case settled for.

"At this point, you know as much as me," he said.

Plaintiff's attorney Nate Mudd had no comment, and defense attorney Manuel Sanchez could not be reached when contacted Monday.

Lehr filed the lawsuit Jan. 19 against Ford, John Crane and 57 other defendant companies. Ford and John Crane were the two remaining companies at the start of trial Friday.

Hartley blamed Ford for Lehr's mesothelioma, but Ford attorney Bergstrom told the jury Lehr's work at Ford did not expose him to asbestos.

Lehr was a pipefitter at Ford's Hazlewood plant from 1984 until his retirement in 1997.

Hartley told the jury Ford did not comply with regulations set by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

Bergstrom argued that Ford did everything it could to prevent asbestos exposure.

Madison County case number 12-L-79.

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