While 2003 may have represented the high-water mark for asbestos litigation, lawsuits against hundreds of corporations continue to be filed across the nation. Between 16 August and 13 September 2007, seven major legal actions naming over 250 companies as defendants made news columns in Missouri, Wisconsin, Kentucky and West Virginia.
On 16 August, Charlotte Warren of Kanawha County, West Virginia, filed suit against Armco Steel and Owens-Illinois on behalf of her late husband’s estate, seeking compensatory and punitive damages. According to the complaint, Jerry Warren was exposed to asbestos over the course of his employment at these companies between 1955 and 1997. Warren died of lung cancer on 27 January 2007.
The following day, Roger and Sally Broughton also filed suit against Armco Steel; the complaint states that Roger Broughton’s lung cancer was also caused by asbestos exposure at the mill. Three days after that, William Potter, a mesothelioma victim, and his wife Joanne filed suit in the Kanawha Circuit Court. Potter, who was a laborer and a crane operator for over 40 years, was exposed to asbestos in the course of his job. The complaint names 52 different companies as defendants. Jerry Warren and Roger Potter were both cigarette smokers. Although cigarettes have long been known to cause lung cancer, asbestos exposure is the only known cause of mesothelioma (though greatly exacerbated by exposure to tobacco smoke). It is likely that the Potter case will result in a favorable verdict. In Madison County Wisconsin, Philip Cieslek, a laborer from 1959 to 2003, filed suit on 6 September against 88 named defendants. His complaint states that he was exposed to asbestos in the course of his employment as well as while making repairs on his home and his various automobiles over the years. According to Cieslek, who was diagnosed with mesothelioma in May, the defendants withheld information relevant to the case leading him to believe that they destroyed evidence which would have proven they knew about the health effects of asbestos and failed to issue proper warnings on their products.