Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

11 Asbestos Law Suits Filed by Workers from Oklahoma

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

11 Asbestos Law Suits Filed by Workers from Oklahoma

Article excerpt

Twenty companies involved in some fashion with the asbestos industry were the target Wednesday of 11 lawsuits filed by an Oklahoma City law firm representing Oklahoma workers not previously considered at high risk of contracting asbestos-related diseases.

The suits, filed in U.S. District Court in Oklahoma City, represent a "unique" departure from ordinary personal injury lawsuits, according to John Vitali, one of the attorneys involved in Wednesday's filing.

They're unique, he said, because the workers involved were never considered at high risk for contracting asbestos-related diseases because they were not workers normally in close or continuous proximity to the product.

The suits requested varying amounts of actual and punitive damages for each plaintiff, but the combined actual damages total approximately $12 million with combined punitive damages ranging between $40 million and $50 million, according to Vitali.

All of the plaintiffs are Oklahomans, Vitali said, and represent a cross section of the trade industries. Two of the alleged victims, he added, have already contracted mesothelioma, which he described as an irreversible type of cancer. Other alleged victims contracted various types of respiratory diseases common to exposure to asbestos.

The 11 plaintiffs were not injured on the same job and the suits do not revolve around a single exposure. The alleged victims all represented trades ranging from plumbers to mechanics to operating engineers to rubber workers at the Oklahoma City Firestone Tire and Rubber Co.

"That was one case where there may have been common exposure," Vitali said, because the employees were working in the same areas.

"Firestone has done a fantastic job in trying to get asbestos out of there. In a way they are another victim in this thing. …

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