Madison - St. Clair Record

Friday, August 23, 2019

Widow's suit alleges negligence by asbestos manufacturers

By Melissa Busch | Apr 13, 2017

BELLEVILLE — The widow of a former mechanic and truck driver is suing numerous asbestos product manufacturers and distributors for wrongfully causing the death of her husband.

On March 7, Rosetta Nelson, the widow of Philip Nelson, filed a suit in the St. Clair County Circuit Court against numerous companies for exposing her husband to large amounts of asbestos fibers. His exposure caused him to die of lung cancer on July 1, 2015, according to the lawsuit.

At various times in his life, he was exposed to, inhaled and absorbed large amounts of asbestos fibers coming from using products manufactured, sold, distributed or installed by the defendants. During all times, the suit claims, the products were used in the way they were intended to be used. His exposure to the fibers was foreseeable, and the defendants should have known that inhaling the fibers was detrimental to a person’s health, according to the lawsuit.

Nelson was exposed to the carcinogen due to faulty and leaky respirators sold by American Optical Corporation, Honeywell Safety Products Inc., Bacou-Dalloz, 3M Corporation and Mine Safety Appliance Company. The suit claims that the defendants should have known that their respirator products were not effective against asbestos inhalation. Only High Efficiency Particulate Arrestance (HEPA) filters were efficient enough to protect against asbestos inhalation.

Nevertheless, many respirator manufacturers continued to profit from the sale of respirators that could not provide asbestos protection, taking advantage of the slow regulatory development and revision process, according to the suit.

The defendants failed to provide adequate warnings of the dangers of inhaling the carcinogen while using the respirators.

Nelson filed claims of battery, fraudulent misrepresentation and intentional infliction of emotional distress against Celadon Trucking Services Inc., Duininck Inc. and Townsend Strong Inc. for furnishing asbestos containing products, failing to replace asbestos-containing products at their facilities and failing to provide medical examinations (until the 1980s) of employees exposed to the carcinogen. They also failed to determine past exposure of employees, according to the suit.

According to the suit, Buffalo Pumps Inc. destroyed and disposed of documents about asbestos products, the locations where they were used and supplied and their manufacturers and wholesalers that they knew could be used as evidence in potential civil litigation. Its failure to preserve these documents handicapped Nelson in proving liability against Buffalo Pumps and other defendants.

Conspiracy against Metropolitan Life Insurance Company and Pneumo Abex Corporation conducted research about the danger of asbestos-containing products but didn’t do its due diligence to inform the public and make changes to regulations concerning the use of products, according to the suit.

Other parties named as defendants include: Ford Motor Company; Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company; Pep Boys; Velan Valve Corp.; Viking Pump Inc.; Warren Pumps LLC; Weir Valves and Controls; York International Corporation; Zurn Industries LLC; Uniroyal; URS Corporation; and many other related businesses, according to the suit.

Claims in the case include: negligence by manufacturers of respiratory products; willful and wanton misconduct as to manufacturers of respiratory products; negligent spoliation of evidence; and willful and wanton spoliation of evidence.

She is represented by Gori, Julian & Associates in Edwardsville.

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Organizations in this Story

Gori, Julian & Associates PC St. Clair County Circuit Court