Wyoming man's estate files asbestos case in Madison County

By Steve Gonzalez | Jan 23, 2007

The estate of Danny Westerman filed an asbestos suit against 89 defendant corporations in Madison County Circuit Court Jan. 19, claiming he was exposed to asbestos while employed as a laborer, railroad worker, telephone line installer, welder and maintenance worker from 1965-2005.

The suit brought by his daughter, Justina Reilly, states that Westerman resided in Wyoming.

Some of the defendants include AT&T, Bondex, DaimlerChrysler, Dow Chemical, Ford Motor Company, General Electric, Goodyear, John Crane, Riley Stoker, Sears and Thyssenkrupp Budd.

The suit also claims Westerman was exposed to asbestos fibers and dust that his father would bring home on his clothes after working.

"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."

According to the suit, Westerman was diagnosed with mesothelioma in September 2005, and died on Feb. 15, 2006.

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

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

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

Reilly claims the defendants included asbestos in their products when they knew asbestos fibers would have a highly deleterious effect on the health of people absorbing them, included asbestos in their products when adequate substitutes were available, failed to provide any warnings to people working with or around asbestos and failed to conduct tests on asbestos-containing products in order to determine the hazards to workers.

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

She also claims that she has sought, but been unable to obtain, full disclosure of relevant documents and information from the defendants leading her 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.

She claims as a result of each defendant breaching its duty to preserve material evidence by destroying documents and information she 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.

Reilly claims prior to his death Westerman experienced great pain and mental anguish, became liable for medical expenses and lost large sums of money he otherwise would have earned.

She claims the family has been deprived of his means and support and has lost the society of Westerman.

Reilly also claims the family spent substantial sums of money for his funeral and burial.

Represented by Nicholas Angelides, John Barnerd and Perry Browder of SimmonsCooper in East Alton, Reilly is seeking damages in excess of $700,000, plus punitive damages in an amount to punish the defendants for their alleged misconduct.

The case has been assigned to Circuit Judge Daniel Stack.

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Ford Motor Company The Dow Chemical Company

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