Galveston, T.X.—Jesse Cruz labored for years at Todd Pacific Shipyards Corp. While there, he handled many different machines and products which contained asbestos. This exposure to asbestos – a deadly carcinogen – is what lead to Cruz’s mesothelioma diagnosis. He died in 2002 at the young age of 56.
Maryann Sparkman of Buda, TX, has filed the lawsuit against Todd Pacific and 21 other defendants, all manufacturers of products or equipment that were used on the shipyard site. The original petition says that “Jesse Cruz was required to handle products containing asbestos and was exposed to other asbestos products present in the workplace.”
The lawsuit claims that Cruz was not only deceived by the defendants, in that he was not made aware of the hazardous working conditions nor provided with protective gear, but that the sundry defendants also colluded with one another in order to conceal those hazards and risks.
“The actions of all defendants aided, abetted, encouraged, induced, or directed the negligent and/or intentional acts of each and every other defendant,” the lawsuit says. It claims that the defendants violated both state and federal regulations relating to asbestos exposure.
Mesothelioma is an extremely rare cancer which has been shown to be directly linked to asbestos exposure in over 90% of cases. In the remaining 10%, asbestos exposure is also suspected, but cannot be substantiated. Malignant mesothelioma occurs when the microscopic, airborne asbestos fibers enter the lungs and the membrane surrounding them, called the mesothelium, and disrupt the normal cell function, eventually becoming malignant. Although mesothelioma is an aggressive disease, it can also take up to fifty years to become symptomatic and therefore to be diagnosed. For this reason, most mesothelioma cases are not diagnosed until they have already become inoperable and extremely difficult to treat.
Because asbestos was so widely used throughout the twentieth century in a host of industrial applications, particularly commercial and household insulation products and insulation for pipes, boilers, gaskets, furnaces, and other equipment in shipyards and other industrial sites. Shipbuilders and general laborers at shipyards are especially prone to contracting asbestos related diseases such as mesothelioma, since asbestos was so widely used in ships to prevent at-sea fires.
Sparkman is seeking not only a jury trial, but also punitive and exemplary damages.