Four Families Bring Suit Against West Virginia Firm

The Vimasco Corporation has been providing “coatings and adhesives for the world’s industries” for 52 years. Among their product offerings are fire-retardant materials. On 27 July, an attorney filed suit in Kanawha Circuit Court against Vimasco and Owens-Illinois on behalf of four families. Clellie Maddox, Lowell L. Sharp and Junior E. Stewart all suffer from asbestosis and/or asbestos-related lung cancer. The fourth plaintiff, Donald W. Rensi, is deceased; his estate is represented by Donna Jo Crago. The suit alleges that the four men had been exposed to asbestos dust at various jobsites in the area, and were not advised of, nor protected from, asbestos hazards. The plaintiffs are seeking compensation for medical expenses, loss of income and damages resulting from a reduction in quality of life, as well as punitive damages. Vimasco, located in the West Virginia town of Nitro, is a small company with fewer than 20 employees and annual sales of between $5 and $10 million. In addition to insulation products and fire-retardant materials, the company has supplied shipyards and markets asbestos abatement products manufactured by its sister company, American Coatings Corporation of Ashland, Virginia.

All products currently manufactured by Vimasco are “asbestos-free.” Vimasco has been named a defendant in several recent asbestos lawsuits. Earlier this year, complaints against Vimasco were filed by lung cancer victim Charles Kinder and on behalf of the late William McGranor, who died from multiple respiratory problems related to asbestos exposure. As in the case of the four families filing suit this summer, the Kinder and McGranor suits allege negligence on the part of the company in failing to provide protective gear and training germane to the handling of asbestos. In both cases, Vimasco was only one of several named defendants. Because of the nature of the asbestos industry, it is rare that any one corporate or business entity be the sole defendant in such an action; 50 to 70 named defendants is not unusual in asbestos litigation.