Man sues former employer, others in silicosis suit

CHARLESTON - A West Virginia man has filed a suit against his former employer, claiming he contracted silicosis after years of working as a rock drill operator.

Dewey White filed the suit March 28 in Kanawha Circuit Court against Geupel Construction Company and seven other defendants.

According to the suit, White's job required him to drill and cut rock and strata containing silica and quartz. When drilled or blasted, the rock creates particles of silica that can be inhaled by the workers on the jobsite.

Silicosis is a deadly lung disease caused by the inhalation of silica or quartz. According to the suit, silicosis has been a known risk, danger and hazard for hundreds of years.

"Silicosis is well-known in the state of West Virginia and in the industry in which Dewey White was employed by virtue of the notorious and deadly work performed at Hawk's Nest in the early 20th century," the suit says.

According to the Center for Disease Control and National Institute for Occupation Safety and Health, silicosis is 100 percent preventable with the proper protection.

White claims he was diagnosed with silicosis March 30, 2006. According to the suit, White's breathing is severely impaired and he is permanently and totally disabled.

According to the suit, White's impairments are a direct result of the defendants' failure to meet state, federal and industry safety standards.

Mary White claims she has suffered lost financial support, general services, companionship, love, advice, and society of her husband.

In the six-count suit, Dewey and Mary White seek compensatory and punitive damages for their injuries.

Attorney Timothy C. Bailey is representing the Whites. The case has been assigned to Judge Jennifer Bailey Walker.

Kanawha Circuit Court case number 08-C-625

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