The widow of a man who died after developing mesothelioma has sued her late husband's former employers under the Jones Act, claiming that they failed to provide him with a safe place to work.
The Jones Act allows injured seamen to seek compensation for injuries that resulted from the negligence of their employers or co-workers during the course of their work on a vessel.
Johnnie Ault, the administrator of the estate for her late husband, Bryan, filed a seven-count complaint earlier this week in federal court in East St. Louis against Schlumberger Ltd. and its subsidiaries, as well as a few other companies.
The complaint states that Bryan Ault was employed by Schlumberger from 1965 to 1970 and again from 1973 to 1988 as an electrician aboard various offshore mobile rigs owned, chartered or controlled by the defendant companies.
Based on the time he spent on these rigs over the course of his employment, the complaint asserts that he was a seaman, a distinction that must be proved in order to make claims under the Jones Act.
Ault contends that her late husband was exposed to and inhaled asbestos fibers from asbestos and asbestos-containing products that he worked around while employed by Schlumberger.
She argues that the defendants breached their duties under the Jones Act to provide her husband with a safe place to work by requiring him to work with or in the vicinity of asbestos.
Ault also contends that the defendants failed to warn Bryan that he was being exposed
to asbestos or the associated risks, and failed to replace asbestos-containing products with non-asbestos substitutes, which they should have known were available.
As a result of the defendants' alleged failures contained in the complaint, Ault asserts her late husband developed mesothelioma, which ultimately led to his death.
Prior to his death, the complaint states, Bryan Ault experienced physical pain and mental anguish, had to pay for medical treatment and lost "large sums" of money as a result of not being able to work.
In addition to the three counts of negligence contained in the complaint, Ault brought four counts of "unseaworthiness" under General Maritime Law.
In those counts, Ault claims that the defendants breached their warranty of seaworthiness because their vessels contained asbestos and lacked appropriate procedures and equipment to deal with asbestos and asbestos-containing products.
Ault seeks $75,000 in damages on each count of her seven-count complaint.
Ault, a Texas resident, is represented by D. Todd Matthews and Randy Gori of Gori, Julian & Associates in Edwardsville.
The citation for the lawsuit is 3:12-cv-833-JPG-PMF