BELLEVILLE — A man who worked for years as a welder has filed a lawsuit against dozens of companies alleging their negligence led to his contact with asbestos that ultimately was responsible for the lung cancer diagnosis he received.
David Flannigan and his wife, Edith, filed the lawsuit in the St. Clair County Circuit Court. They are represented by Glen Carbon-based Flint Law Firm. They seek a jury trial.
According to the lawsuit, Flannigan worked as a lineman at Western Electric in St. Louis from 1962 to 1963. He served in the Army as a truck driver in 1963 and 1964. From 1965 to 1979, he was employed by Babcock & Wilcox as a boiler welder in the manufacturing plant located in Mt. Vernon, Indiana, and was employed by a number of companies working through the Boilermakers Union 374 from 1980 to 2004 in and around Illinois, Tennessee, Indiana and Kentucky.
While Flannigan worked, and during non-occupational work projects, the lawsuit alleges that he was exposed to and inhaled asbestos fibers and/or asbestiform fibers emanating from certain products he was working with and around, which were manufactured, sold, distributed or installed by the defendants.
According to the lawsuit, Flannigan’s exposure to asbestos was preventable by the defendants. It alleges that the defendants knew or should have known that the asbestos fibers contained in their products had a toxic, poisonous and hazardous effect on the health of anyone inhaling or ingesting them.
Flannigan learned he had lung cancer on July 13, 2016, and he later learned it was the result of his exposure to asbestos during his working career, the suit claims.
The lawsuit alleges that the defendant companies had a duty to exercise reasonable care and caution for Flannigan and other workers working around the products containing asbestos.
While the companies allegedly knew that their products contained the material, the lawsuit contends that the defendants made no effort to use safer substitutes to asbestos.
The lawsuit also contends that the companies failed to provide warnings to anyone working with the products of the potential dangers posed by asbestos. They also allegedly failed to provide any or adequate instructions concerning the safe methods of working with and around the products, including specific instructions on how to avoid inhaling, ingesting or absorbing the asbestos fibers in them. They also failed to conduct tests on any of their products containing asbestos.
Further, the lawsuit alleges that the companies designed products that included asbestos-containing components or designed respiratory protection systems that failed to protect Flannigan from inhaling asbestos or asbestiform fibers.
The lawsuit also alleges that as a result of the negligence of the defendants, Flannigan was exposed to asbestos or asbestiform fibers, causing him to develop lung cancer, which will ultimately lead to his death.
Moreover, the lawsuit contends that as a result of the negligence of the defendants, Flannigan faces growing debts for medical bills, hospital visits and medical and other health care services needed for treatment of his lung cancer. He also will endure pain, suffering and mental anguish as a result of the disease. He also will be prevented from working and earning any additional income.
The suit also alleges negligence, willful and wanton against the defendants as manufacturers of asbestos products.
The lawsuit alleges that defendants, including Metropolitan Life Insurance, Honeywell International and Pneumo Abex Corp., conspired among themselves and with other entities, including Johns-Manville Corp., Union Asbestos & Rubber Co., Pittsburgh-Corning Corp. and United States Gypsum, to expose Flannigan to products containing asbestos products.
The lawsuit contends that Metropolitan Life Insurance, Honeywell International and Pneumo Abex Corp. were in a position as agents of other “co-conspirators” to have “superior knowledge” regarding the hazards of asbestos. They also allegedly participated in the intentional publication of deceptive and misleading medical data and information.
A count of negligent spoliation of evidence alleges that the named defendants possessed information relating to the issues of the case. The lawsuit also alleges that the defendants had a duty to preserve and maintain potential evidence in asbestos litigation.
A count of willful and wanton spoliation of evidence in the suit alleges that defendants destroyed and disposed of evidence that was key to the cases, impeding Flannigan’s ability to prove his case against them.
A count of strict liability/ultra-hazardous activity is leveled against Commonwealth Edison Co. and Hoosier Energy Rural Electric Cooperative Inc., alleging Flannigan was exposed to asbestos at their facilities and as a result of the exposure developed lung cancer.
The lawsuit also alleges loss of consortium, alleging that his wife and other family members have been deprived of the companionship and services of their loved one.
The suit further alleges negligence, noting that Flannigan had no reasonable way to know the risks associated with asbestos and the defendants should have known this. It also alleges the defendants had a duty to ensure work areas were safe.
The suit also alleges that Flannigan has become liable for medical expenses and will suffer pain and mental anguish as he battles lung cancer.
According to the lawsuit, Flannigan is seeking compensatory and punitive damages and exemplary damages of at least $50,000 for each of eight counts against the defendants named.