Alabama victim is newest plaintiff for SimmonsCooper

By Steve Gonzalez | Jan 17, 2007

An Alabama man who suffers from mesothelioma filed suit against 91 defendants in Madison County Circuit Court Jan. 12, alleging he was exposed to airborne asbestos fibers from his father's clothing.

Howard Sturgeon claims his father, Elmo Sturgeon was employed as a truck driver at various locations across the country.

"Dust created by working with and around asbestos and asbestos-containing products would permeate the person and clothing of the plaintiff's father," the complaint states. "This dust contained asbestos fiber."

Sturgeon claims his father would carry the asbestos dust on his clothing home with him where it would again become airborne.

"The plaintiff would be repeatedly exposed to this asbestos dust from his father's person and clothing," the complaint states.

Sturgeon was employed from 1977 through 2006 as a communication lineman, railroad worker and communication maintainer/technician at various locations, including the state of Illinois.

He also claims he was exposed to asbestos during non-occupational work projects including home and automotive repairs, maintenance and remodeling.

Sturgeon was diagnosed with mesothelioma in May 2006, and subsequently became aware that his illness was wrongfully caused, the suit claims.

The complaint alleges that defendants failed to require and advise their employees of hygiene practices designed to reduce or prevent carrying asbestos fibers home.

As a result of the alleged negligence, Sturgeon claims he was exposed to fibers containing asbestos, and developed a disease caused only by asbestos which has disabled and disfigured him.

He also claims that he has sought, but has been unable to obtain full disclosure of relevant documents and information from the defendants leading him to believe the defendants destroyed documents related to asbestos.

"It was foreseeable to a reasonable person/entity in the respective positions of defendants, that said documents and information constituted evidence, which was material to potential civil litigation-namely asbestos litigation," the complaint states.

The suit claims that as a result of each defendant breaching its duty to preserve material evidence by destroying documents and information Sturgeon has been prejudiced and impaired in proving claims against all potential parties.

"Plaintiff has been caused to suffer damages in the form of impaired ability to recover against defendants and lost or reduced compensation from other potentially liable parties in this litigation," the complaint states.

Represented by Nicholas Angelides, Perry Browder and John Barnerd of SimmonsCooper in East Alton, Sturgeon is seeking compensatory damages in excess of $200,000, plus punitive damages.

"An award of punitive damages is appropriate and necessary in order to punish defendants for their willful, wanton, intentional and/or reckless misconduct and to deter defendants and others from engaging in like misconduct in the future."

The case has been assigned to Circuit Judge Dan Stack.

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