California widow files asbestos claim in Madison County

By Steve Gonzalez | Jul 23, 2007

The widow of a California man who died from mesothelioma in January filed an asbestos suit against 50 defendants in Madison County Circuit Court July 18, alleging her late husband was exposed to airborne asbestos fibers.

Cynthia Braley claims her late husband, Howard Braley, was employed in operations and as a supervisor from 1968 to 2006 at various locations in Illinois and Missouri.

Braley claims that during the course of Howard's employment and during home and automotive repairs he was exposed to and inhaled, ingested or otherwise absorbed asbestos fibers emanating from certain products he was working with and around.

"The plaintiff's exposure and inhalation, ingestion or absorption of the asbestos fibers was completely foreseeable and could or should have been anticipated by the defendants," the complaint states.

Braley claims the defendants knew 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.

According to Braley, Howard first became aware that he suffered from mesothelioma on Jan. 24.

Braley alleges that the defendants included asbestos in their products even when adequate substitutes were available and failed to provide any or adequate instructions concerning the safe methods of working with and around asbestos.

She also claims that the defendants failed to require and advise employees of hygiene practices designed to reduce or prevent carrying asbestos fibers home.

As a result of the alleged negligence, Braley claims Howard was exposed to fibers containing asbestos. He developed a disease caused only by asbestos which has disabled and disfigured him, the complaint states.

Prior to his death, Howard suffered "great physical pain and mental anguish, and also will be hindered and prevented from pursuing his normal course of employment, thereby losing large sums of money," the complaint states.

Braley also claims she has been deprived of Howard's means and support and has lost the society of Howard and also had to expend large sums of money for his funeral and burial.

She is seeking at least $250,000 in damages for negligence, willful and wanton acts, conspiracy, and negligent spoliation of evidence among other allegations.

"In addition to compensatory damages, an award of punitive damages is appropriate and necessary in order to punish the defendants for willful, wanton, intentional and reckless misconduct and to deter them and others from engaging in like misconduct in the future," the complaint states.

Braley is represented by John Barnerd and Myles Epperson of SimmonsCooper in East Alton.

The case has been assigned to Circuit Court Judge Daniel Stack.

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