Asbestos suit names 18 defendants

By Chris Dickerson | Dec 8, 2005

CHARLESTON – A man has filed suit against 18 companies – from worldwide corporations such as Viacom and General Motors to local companies such as Nitro Industrial Coverings – for being exposed to asbestos and other harmful dusts over the span of 40 years as a laborer.

In the suit filed Dec. 1 in Kanawha Circuit Court, Walter L. James Sr. alleges each of the companies were manufacturers, suppliers, sellers and installers of asbestos and asbestos-containing products that he came in contact with on a daily basis as a worker at FMC Ordnance in South Charleston from 1962 to 1973, and as a laborer at West Virginia Paving in South Charleston from 1973 to 1999.

As a result of breathing asbestos and other harmful dusts, the suit says James developed a serious, permanent and disabling lung disease.

The suit, filed by John E. Sutter of The Sutter Law Firm PLLC, goes on to say the defendants knew or should have known that the use of their products would cause serious lung diseases and cancer and that they failed to take reasonable precautions to warn of the dangers.

The suit alleges the defendants' actions constituted "malicious, willful and wanton misconduct with complete disregard for the safety and rights of others, amounting to extraordinary and outrageous conduct especially when the defendants were aware of scientific and medical data made available to them that their products were harmful and deadly to workers who were exposed to them."

In addition to the disease, the suit says James has incurred medical expenses, great pain of body and mind, embarrassment, inconvenience, loss of wages and earning capacity, loss of quality and enjoyment of life, shortening of life expectancy, increased risk of cancer and mesothelioma, worry and concern associated with the increased risk as well as permanent and disabling injury. And the suit says all of those factors will continue in the future for James.

James seeks compensatory damages in an amount deemed appropriate by a jury as well as punitive damages with interest and costs.

The companies listed as defendants are Anchor Packing Company, A.W. Chesterton Company, Borg-Warner Automotive Inc., Certainteed Corporation, DaimlerChrysler Corporation, Dana Corporation, Durametallic Corporation, Ford Motor Company, Garlock Inc., General Electric Company, General Motors Corporation, Honeywell International Inc., Lockheed Martin Corporation (former Martin Marietta Technologies Inc.), Metropolitan Life Insurance Company, Nitro Industrial Coverings, Rapid-American Corporation, Uniroyal Inc and Viacom as a successor by merger to Westinghouse Electric Corporation.

The case is listed as being assigned to a visiting judge.

Kanawha Circuit Court case number: 05-C-2651

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