A Wisconsin man diagnosed with mesothelioma filed suit in Madison County Circuit Court Oct. 31, claiming 48 defendant corporations are responsible for his illness.
Hermann Klingemann was employed from 1958 to 2007 as a manufacturing supervisor, manufacturing technician, quality control supervisor, maintenance technician, draftsman, stock clerk, salesman, project engineer, project lead man and designer at various locations in Wisconsin and Illinois.
He claims he was diagnosed with the fatal disease in June 2007 and asserts his exposure to asbestos fibers was completely foreseeable and could or should have been anticipated by the defendants.
Some of the defendants include Bondex, CBS, Chrysler, Ford Motor Company, General Electric, General Motors, Goodyear, John Crane, MetLife, Owens-Illinois, Philips Electronics and Union Carbide.
Klingemann claims that during the course of his 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.
Klingemann 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.
Klingemann 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.
He 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, Klingemann claims he was exposed to fibers containing asbestos. He developed a disease caused only by asbestos which has disabled and disfigured him, the complaint states.
He seeks damages to help pay for the cost of treatment.
Klingemann also suffers "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.
Klingemann also claims that he has sought, but 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.
He claims as a result of each defendant breaching its duty to preserve material evidence by destroying documents and information he 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 John Barnerd and Myles Epperson of SimmonsCooper in East Alton, Klingemann is seeking compensatory damages in excess of $700,000, 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 complaint states.
The case has been assigned to Circuit Judge Dan Stack.
07 L 937