Anyone who has spent time reading the content here at Asbestos.net understands that asbestos + tobacco = almost certain death from cancer. Smokers who are exposed to asbestos run a risk of contracting lung cancer that is 9000% greater than that of a non-smoker. This fact is now at the heart of an asbestos suit filed in Texas. All things considered, it is amazing that Clothilde DeJean has survived as long as she has. Now aged 77, Ms. DeJean suffers from diabetes, high cholesterol levels, heart disease, and has been a heavy smoker to boot. In addition, she suffers from asbestosis, from fibers to which she was exposed when laundering her husband’s work clothes between 1945 and 1980 (Mr. DeJean was an employee at a Texaco refinery). She has already sued and received a settlement for her asbestos injury. Now diagnosed with lung cancer, she has filed a second lawsuit which names 44 defendants that include big multi-national corporations such as Viacom, defense contractor Lockheed Martin and Zurn Industries. The grounds for the new lawsuit: DeJean’s heavy use of tobacco combined with the asbestos fibers in a “synergistic” manner to cause the cancer from which she now suffers.
The lawsuit alleges that the 44 defendants were “negligent for failing to adequately test their asbestos-laced products before flooding the market with dangerous goods and warn the consumer of the dangers of asbestos exposure.” Court documents also state that DeJean was exposed to asbestos while working as a custodian in a school building from which asbestos was being removed. According to the complaint, the court “…must apply a separate accrual rule in these cases because a single action rule would forbid a second suit and in doing so force the asbestos plaintiff to file premature litigation on speculative claims.” While most Americans would acknowledge that multi-national corporations are not exactly the epitome of concern for human health and welfare, one would think that there comes a point at which an individual must accept consequences for the choices they make. On the other hand, it has been proven that tobacco companies took extraordinary steps to make their product more addictive. It will be interesting to see how this case plays out.