A Michigan man who suffers from mesothelioma filed suit against 55 defendants in Madison County Circuit Court March 19, alleging he was exposed to airborne asbestos fibers from his father's clothing.

Charles Bird, Jr., claims his father was employed at Teledyne Continental Motors as a factory worker during the early 1920s until the 1940s.

"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."

Bird 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.

Bird was employed from 1963 through 1995 as a welder, laborer and service station attendant 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.

Bird was diagnosed with mesothelioma on Feb. 21, 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, Bird 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 Bird 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 Shane Hampton and Paul Dix of SimmonsCooper in East Alton, Bird 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 Daniel Stack.

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