Could St. Clair County be replacing Madison County as a magnet for asbestos lawsuits? Though the 20th Judicial Circuit does not have a so-called "asbestos docket," a well-known litigator filed seven cases there on Jan. 28. Did not warn people about the dangers of asbestos, even though it was completely foreseeable;
Randy Gori of Goldenberg, Miller, Heller, & Antognoli in Edwardsville is a familiar figure in the halls of Madison County Court's Law Division. Having filed hundreds of cases on behalf of plaintiffs with asbestos-related illnesses, Gori is considered the area's premier asbestos trial attorney among local observers.
Madison County Circuit Judge Daniel Stack, who administers the county's asbestos docket, recently dismissed 25 asbestos cases for "venue shopping." (See related story).
One of the cases Gori filed in St. Clair County was on behalf of a Springfield man, Morris Davis. He is suing 45 manufacturers or distributors of asbestos-containing products.
Gori did not return several phone calls placed to his office.
Davis is seeking at least $200,000 in damages, plus punitive damages in excess of $50,000 in order to punish the defendants.
According to the complaint, Davis has been hindered and prevented from pursuing his normal course of employment, thereby losing large sums of money which otherwise he would have earned. He was diagnosed with pleural thickening--an asbestos-induced illness--on June 26, 2003.
During President George W. Bush's State of the Union address he reminded Congress of the need for legal reform.
"Justice is distorted, and our economy is held back by irresponsible class-actions and frivolous asbestos claims -- and I urge Congress to pass legal reforms this year," President Bush said.
According to the complaint filed in St. Clair County, Davis was a carpenter from 1930-1982 at Brotherhood of Carpenters in various Illinois locations.
Davis claims during the course of his employment he was exposed to and inhaled, ingested or otherwise absorbed large amounts of asbestos fibers emanating from products he was working with or around.
"The defendants knew of 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 inhaling, ingesting, or otherwise absorbing them," the complaint states.
Davis claims that the defendants failed to exercise ordinary care and caution for his safety in the following respects:
Included asbestos in products when the defendants knew or should have known that the asbestos fibers would have a toxic, poisonous and highly deleterious effect;
Failed to use adequate substitutes for asbestos which existed and was available;
Did not provide adequate instructions concerning the safe methods of working with and around products; and
Failed to conduct tests on the asbestos-containing products manufactured, sold, delivered or installed by the defendants in order to determine the hazards to which workers such as the plaintiff might be exposed.
Davis alleges the defendants are guilty of willful and wanton misconduct as they intentionally and with a reckless disregard for his safety included asbestos in their products, even though it was forseeable and anticipated that people working around asbestos products wouldbe exposed to fibers from asbestos
As a result of one or more of the omissions on part of the defendants, Davis claims he has had to undergo costly medical treatment and that he suffers great physical pain and mental anguish as a result of his asbestos exposure.
05 L 54 (20th Circuit)