Robert Brooks Ramsey
Circuit Judge Daniel Stack is assigned to handle all asbestos cases in Madison County
A hefty volume of cases crushed the Madison County Circuit Clerk's office Tuesday as a St. Louis asbestos litigation firm filed 153 lawsuits.
Plaintiff's attorney Robert Brooks Ramsey of Brent Coon & Associates in St. Louis filed 139 asbestos and 14 silicosis lawsuits on behalf of former State of Illinois workers.
The asbestos plaintiffs’--whose individual suits name 87 defendants--claim they were exposed to asbestos-containing products and/or machinery while they worked for the state. Damages are being sought for negligence, strict liability and wilful and wanton misconduct.
Asbestos defendants include John Crane, Georgia-Pacific, Kelly Moore Paint, General Electric, Union Carbide, Bondex International and Ford Motor Company.
Each silicosis plaintiff names 49 defendants. Some of those defendants include, American Optical Corp., Allied Minerals, Flexo Products, Lockheed Martin and U.S. Silica Company.
The silicosis suits claim the plaintiffs were exposed to silica and silica-containing products while working in various facilities.
In Madison County, the distinction between an asbestos and silicosis law suit has more to do with how the court manages its docket. Asbestos cases are assigned to one judge who administers all cases for expediency-sake.
“Each defendant is amenable to suit in the State of Illinois by reason of having engaged in the mining, processing, and/or manufacturing, marketing, distribution of asbestos or asbestos-containing products or by reason of having placed the same into the stream of commerce for use in Illinois, and by reason of having committed tortious acts against plaintiffs in Illinois,” the suits state.
"It seems unusual and a departure from the recent, positive trend in Madison County," commented Ed Murnane, president of the Illinois Civil Justice League.
According to its website, Brent Coon & Associates is a 22-attorney firm dedicated primarily to the prosecution of asbestos and mesothelioma litigation. It has seven offices in five states across the country.
The firm claims to have successfully won "millions of dollars in trial verdicts and settlements for our clients," according to the firm's website.
"We move quickly on each case and do not get bogged down by a large volume of cases like many other law firms may do."
According to the plaintiffs’ the asbestos products were in a defective condition and were unreasonably dangerous in that:
The plaintiffs also allege that defendants failed to timely and adequately warn them about dangers and health hazards of exposure and failed to inform them about appropriate protective apparel and equipment.
The suits also allege the defendants failed to properly design or market products for safe use under conditions that were reasonably anticipated and failed to take reasonable precautions to publish, adopt and enforce a safety plan or safe method of handling asbestos products.