Asbestos plaintiff sought production of company executives at trial

By Heather Isringhausen Gvillo | Nov 7, 2013

Madison County Associate Judge Tom Chapman on Nov. 6 settled a man’s 2012 asbestos lawsuit set to go to trial this week after the plaintiff filed a notice to compel more than 50 defendant companies to provide their CEOs and CFOs to testify at trial.

Plaintiff William Costello filed the notice on Oct. 21 compelling the appearance of witnesses at trial docketed for Nov. 4.

Costello's attorney Ted Gianaris of the Simmons firm made the argument pursuant to Supreme Court Rules 237(b) asking that the executives appear at trial as well as "person or persons verifying each set of interrogatory answers, responses to requests for production and responses to requests to admit ever filed."

According to the asbestos complaint filed on Nov. 9, 2012, Costello claimed mesothelioma as a result of his exposure to and inhalation of asbestos fibers between the years 1996 and 1999 while he worked as a maintenance man at various locations.

He claimed the products containing asbestos fibers were manufactured, sold, distributed or installed by the various defendants, and that they should have anticipated the dangers of working with such products.

The defendants were accused of including asbestos in their products regardless of the dangers it presented, including asbestos when they should have known the fibers would have a toxic and highly deleterious effect on people’s health, failing to use adequate substitutes for the asbestos products, failing to provide proper warnings about the asbestos dangers and failing to instruct employees on how to safely work around the products.

Costello claimed he was unaware of the extent of the dangers working with asbestos presented.

“Plaintiff remained ignorant and uninformed of the hazards of asbestos, failed to take precautions and was thereby exposed to, inhaled, ingested or otherwise absorbed asbestos fibers, causing him to develop the asbestos disease specified herein,” the suit stated.

Costello accused the defendants of willful and wanton conduct for having a reckless disregard for the safety of the plaintiff.

He also claimed the defendants conducted in negligent spoliation of evidence, arguing that documents identifying the asbestos-containing products and the work the plaintiff did, among others, were reasonably considered evidence.

He argued that defendants “breached their duty to preserve said material evidence by destroying and otherwise disposing of said documents and information, at a time when they and each of them knew or should have known that the same constituted material evidence in potential civil litigation,” the suit stated.

Madison County Circuit Court case number 12-L-1840

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