Robert Ramsey of the Brent Coon law firm filed four new lawsuits in Madison County on behalf of two plaintiffs claiming they were exposed to both asbestos and silica.
Dale Hanabarger and Linda Arnold each filed silicosis and asbestos claims in Nov. 27, claiming they were exposed to large amounts of each substance.
Hanabarger was employed as a painter, plasterer and sandblaster in Illinois from 1973-2003. He worked for Mark's Plastering and Cole Industrial Paint Service and claims that on June 1, 2005, he was diagnosed with bilateral asbestos-related pleural disease.
Arnold was employed as a strand helper in Illinois from 1977-2005. She was also diagnosed on June 1, 2005, but with asbestosis.
They both claim they became aware of their silicosis-related disease on Dec. 4, 2004.
They claim that during the course of their employment and during home and automotive repairs they were exposed to and inhaled, ingested or otherwise absorbed large amounts of asbestos fibers emanating from certain products they were working with and around.
Ramsey filed 172 lung disease lawsuits in Madison County in September 2005.
At that time Ramsey also filed simultaneous asbestosis and silicosis suits for 12 plaintiffs.
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, a distinction between asbestos and silicosis law suits has much 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 tortuous acts against plaintiffs in Illinois," the suits state.
In February 2005, U.S. District Judge Janis Graham Jack of Texas characterized thousands of lawsuits filed by people claiming illness from asbestos and silica exposure as raising "great red flags of fraud."
She took aim at a Mississippi asbestos and silicosis screening firm "N&M," which operated without medical oversight, and generated diagnoses for thousands of litigants.
"To place this accomplishment in perspective," Judge Janis wrote, "in just over two years, N&M found 400 times more silicosis cases than the Mayo Clinic (which sees 250,000 patients a year) treated during the same period.
"Furthermore, when comparing the names of the approximately 6,757 N&M-generated MDL (Multi-District Litigation) Plaintiffs with the names in the Manville Personal Injury Settlement Trust (a trust established for asbestos claims after the Johns-Manville Corporation bankruptcy), at least 4,031 N&M- generated Plaintiffs have also made asbestosis claims.
"The magnitude of this feat becomes evident when one considers that many pulmonologists, pathologists and B readers go their entire careers without encountering a single patient with both silicosis and asbestosis.
"Stated differently, a golfer is more likely to hit a hole-in-one than an occupational medicine specialist is to find a single case of both silicosis and asbestosis.
"N&M parked a van in some parking lots and found over 4,000 such cases."
In the asbestos suit, Hanabarger and Arnold are seeking damages in excess of $250,000, plus punitive damages in excess of $50,000.
In the silica suits, they are seeking damages in excess of $100,000.