Family of Pipefitter Files Second Asbestos Suit

The family of a Texas man who spent his life working as a pipefitter has filed a second asbestos suit on his behalf, alleging that he died from mesothelioma as a result of exposure to asbestos while on the job.

According to an article in the Southeast Texas Record, the estate of Ernest L. Edwards is seeking compensation for a “different malignant asbestos-related injury,” which they claim prematurely ended his life. Edwards sued several years ago when he developed “an asbestos related disease” and received compensation, the article notes.

The suit was filed earlier this month against the A.O. Smith Corporation and 34 other companies. A.O. Smith manufactures electric motors as well as electric and gas water heaters. The claim alleges that those named in the suit knowingly and maliciously manufactured and distributed asbestos-containing products throughout Jefferson County (Texas). Other defendants named in the suit include aerospace giant Lockheed Martin and Zurn Industries, an iron supplier.

“The petition faults Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing Corp. (3M Corporation) and American Optical Corp. for producing defective masks that failed to provide respiratory protection,” the article adds.

Although Edwards has already sued and received a claim, the suit says, “Plaintiff now seeks damages against defendants not released in the previous actions pursuant to Pustejovsky v. Rapid-American Corp.”

In Texas, victims of an asbestos disease such as asbestosis may sue a second time for an asbestos-related cancer if he develops the cancer in the future, after the onset of the original disease.

Asbestos Scare Closes NJ School

A Montclair, New Jersey school remained closed today after high levels of hazardous asbestos were found in side the building.

According to an article in The Star-Ledger, Renaissance Middle School, which houses 239 students, was evacuated last Friday after testing found airborne asbestos in one of four samples taken during the installation of fire doors on the school’s third floor.

The sample had a reading of “460 structures” which, according to Steve Jaraczewski of Detail Associates, the Montclair school district’s asbestos consultant, is more than six times the acceptable levels. The school was build in 1899, when asbestos was regularly used as a fire retardant in schools and other commercial buildings. The mineral is a known carcinogen.

Parents were astounded at the news. “You want to keep them home tomorrow?” asked Frank Alvarez, the superintendent of schools, at a meeting held with parents on Monday morning. “Yes, Yes,” most of the parents shouted.

Cleanup was to begin over the weekend and was overseen by the state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). Parents requested that the students’ lockers also be included in the cleanup. Jaraczewski also told parents they should discard their children’s backpacks as a safeguard against asbestos fibers adhering to the porous fabric.

“If it was my kid … I’d get rid of the backpack,” Jaraczewski said.

The building that houses Renaissance Middle School is owned by the Archdiocese of Newark and leased to Montclair School District. Jaraczewski blamed the archdiocese for their poor asbestos management plan but parents were annoyed at the finger pointing.

Dana Sullivan, the Montclair schools’ business administrator, said the district just discovered that asbestos was present in a brown undercoating of plaster that is found on the walls throughout the school.

“We had not yet informed [the archdiocese] because we had not received a written report yet,” Sullivan said. “I wish we had. I don’t know that it would have mattered. I don’t know.”
The diocese, which performed the fire-door replacement at the district’s request, informed the district that work would begin last Monday, several days before school officials noticed the broken plaster, Sullivan said.

“We knew they were putting in fire doors. What we didn’t know was that they were disturbing this plaster, this brown coat,” Sullivan explained.