Sixty-five West Virginia Companies Named Defendants

A former employee of the agribusiness giant Monsanto has named 65 different companies, all of which are licensed to conduct business in West Virginia, as defendants in a 13-count lawsuit seeking compensation for damages and expenses related to asbestos poisoning.
Mayford Lee Sigman was continuously exposed to asbestos in the course of his work for Monsanto, which primarily deals with agricultural technology. However, some of the corporation’s activities involve the production and use of numerous chemicals; asbestos has long been known not only for its fireproofing characteristics, but its resistance to chemical corrosion as well as electrical current, and so is often used in laboratory equipment and in equipment used in chemical manufacturing and storage. As a result, Monsanto has been frequently named a defendant in asbestos actions. Today, Mayford Sigman suffers from asbestosis, a hardening of the lung tissue that makes breathing difficult. Although asbestosis is not malignant and progression of the disease stops once the victim is removed from the asbestos environment, there is no cure–and treatment must continue throughout the victim’s life. He and his wife have filed suit, seeking an unspecified amount for compensatory as well as punitive damages.

The complaint alleges that the defendants knew, or should have known of the hazards of asbestos and failed to warn workers of said hazards. Because of this negligence, Sigman contracted the disease he now lives with. The suit says that the companies named as defendants had an obligation to provide workers with training on how to handle asbestos as well as protective equipment and clothing. Sigman is seeking compensation for his considerable medical expenses and pharmaceutical bills as well as physical pain and suffering, psychological distress, loss of wages and earning capacity as well as substantial reductions in his quality of life. In addition, Betty Sigman is seeking compensation for loss of consortium. In this case, the plaintiff is suing for loss of companionship and financial support of a spouse. The Sigmans’ complaint was filed at the beginning of November 2007 in the Kanawha County court; the case will be heard by a visiting judge.