Inmates Sue for Asbestos Exposure

Inmates at one of Ohio’s largest correctional centers are suing the state for alleged exposure to asbestos during their incarceration.

According to a story reported on WBNS-10TV, more than 30 current and former inmates at the Chillicothe Correctional Institution have filed a federal lawsuit against the State of Ohio alleging that their health was put at-risk while they served prison time.

The story quotes Gerald Smith, one of the 37 inmates that joined the suit. He said he was exposed to the asbestos on a daily basis and continues to suffer from the effects.

“I have chest pains and I cough up phlegm at times,” Smith said.

According to Smith, he routinely encountered the asbestos while working as a plumber inside the prison, reported Channel 10 correspondent Paul Aker.

“If we have a rupture in the pipe, this means the steam is blowing through the asbestos, blowing all the asbestos in the air,” Smith said.

Smith and the other inmates told Akers that they collected samples of the alleged asbestos from areas inside the prison, including floors and had them sent to a laboratory for testing via their lawyers. The samples tested positive for asbestos.

Attorney Daniel Modarski, who represents several of the plaintiffs, professed that money is not the motivation for the lawsuit.

“When we found there was actually asbestos in there, and looked at the public officials who had repeatedly said there was no asbestos in there, we felt we couldn’t just sit by and let this go,” said Mordarski. “We had to file a complaint.”

The Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections would not comment about the case on camera but told the news station that when they are informed about asbestos, they removed it. But Smith and his fellow inmates remain concerned.

“If we don’t address the issues today, what’s going to happen when all these problems come up for people who visit?” Smith said. “With the workers who were there? The inmates who were there?”

The amount of the lawsuit has not yet been determined but records show that a similar suit was brought before the courts in 1993 and later dismissed by the judge.

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