Former employee files asbestos suit against Carbide

By Cara Bailey | Feb 1, 2007

CHARLESTON - A former Union Carbide employee has filed a lawsuit claiming he was exposed to asbestos during his time at the plant.

Charles R. Burgess filed the suit Jan. 18 in Kanawha Circuit Court. It names eleven corporations as defendants, including two located in West Virginia.

In the suit, filed by Charleston attorney John H. Skaggs, Burgess says he has suffered permanent and severe lung injuries, respiratory and cardiovascular systems, and has mesothelioma because he was required to handle asbestos-containing products.

Charles R. Burgess was employed by Union Carbide Technical Center, in South Charleston where he was required to handle asbestos products. At times when he was not "actually using and handling said asbestos products, he was frequently exposed to the fibers contained in asbestos dust" generated by employees in the same working environment, the suit states.

In a 10-count lawsuit, the defendants are A & I Company, A.W. Chesterton Company, Anchor Packing Company, Certainteed Corporation, Garlock, Inc., General Electric Company, Gordon Gasket and Packing Co., Metropolitan Life Insurance, Co., Owens-Illinois, Union Carbide Chemical and Plastics, Co., Inc. and Viacom, formerly known as Westinghouse Electric Corporation.

Burgess claims the companies were negligent because they knew of the health risks associated with asbestos, because of numerous studies conducted in the past and cited in the lawsuit, which all concluded that asbestos exposure was dangerous.

The suit claims that Burgess' "condition will in the future worsen and his longevity will be diminished." Physical activities and enjoyment of life will be curtailed. Also, due to his injuries, Burgess is uninsurable, according to the suit, and cannot obtain insurance on his life and for his health in order to protect his family from financial hardship in the event of his sickness, hospitalization or death.

Burgess seeks judgment against the corporation, jointly and severally, for compensatory damages and punitive damages. His wife, not named in the suit, also seeks judgment for compensatory and punitive damages.

He demands trial by jury. The case has been assigned to a visiting judge.

Kanawha Circuit Court case number 07-C-107

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