An Arkansas woman suffering from mesothelioma filed an asbestos suit against 96 defendants in Madison County Circuit Court June 14, alleging she was exposed to airborne asbestos fibers from family members' clothing.
Tammy Schwartz claims that her current husband, Joseph Schwartz, was self-employed from 1989 to 2007 as a pipefitter and electrician at various locations and her former husband performed his own automotive maintenance on family vehicles.
She also claims her father was employed as a heavy machine operator from 1954 through 1995.
Schwartz alleges that her family members worked with and around asbestos-containing products.
"Dust created by working with and around asbestos and asbestos-containing products would permeate the person and clothing of the plaintiff's family members," the complaint states. "This dust contained asbestos fiber."
Schwartz claims her family members would carry the asbestos dust on their clothing home with them where it would again become airborne.
"The plaintiff would be repeatedly exposed to this asbestos dust from her family member's person and clothing," the complaint states.
Schwartz was employed from 1982 through 2006 as a machine operator and cashier at various locations.
She also claims she was exposed to asbestos during non-occupational work projects including home and automotive repairs, maintenance and remodeling.
According to Schwartz, she was diagnosed with mesothelioma on April 18, 2006, and subsequently became aware her illness was wrongfully caused, the suit claims.
Schwartz claims the 96 defendant corporations intentionally or with a reckless disregard for her safety:
# included asbestos in their products, when the defendants knew or should have known that the asbestos fibers would have a toxic, poisonous and highly deleterious effect upon his health;
# included asbestos in their products when adequate substitutions were available;
# failed to provide adequate warning to people working with and around the products of the dangers of inhaling, ingesting or otherwise absorbed fibers in them;
# failed to provide adequate instruction concerning the safe methods of working with and around asbestos products; and
# failed to conduct tests on the asbestos-containing products, manufactured, sold or delivered by the defendants to determine the hazards to which workers might be exposed.
As a result of the alleged negligence, Schwartz claims she was exposed to fibers containing asbestos, and developed a disease caused only by asbestos which has disabled and disfigured her.
She also claims that she has sought, but has been unable to obtain, full disclosure of relevant documents and information from the defendants leading her 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.
Schwartz claims that as a result of each defendant breaching its duty to preserve material evidence by destroying documents and information she 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 Trent Miracle, John Barnerd, Perry Browder, and John Foley of SimmonsCooper in East Alton, Schwartz 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 complaint states.