Power Plant Employees File Suit over Asbestos Exposure

Asbestos exposure attorneys at Pintas & Mullins Law Firm report on a recent lawsuit out of Missouri, where employees of an electric company were exposed to asbestos on the job. Plaintiffs are alleging said exposure increased the likelihood that they will develop asbestosis, mesothelioma, and other asbestos-related disease in the future.

The employees claim that Empire District Electric Company knowingly exposed them to asbestos and other toxic substances at its plant in Riverton, MO. The lawsuit was filed in September 2013 on behalf of one Empire employee and all others who were also exposed, seeking class-action status. The judge then issued an injunction to prevent Empire from destroying any potential evidence that could prove or support the employees’ claims.

The main plaintiff has worked at Empire since 2006 and was transferred to its facility in Riverton in 2011. Like millions of buildings throughout the U.S., the Riverton plant has asbestos insulation around its pipes, wires and ducts which have begun to peel and flake off. Employees believe that this decay is exposing them to dangerous concentrations of asbestos fibers.

The Riverton plant recently converted to natural gas power from coal-fired, during which employees were asked to dispose of scrap materials from the remodeling. The conversion was government-mandated by the EPA, which recently established new standards for power plants.

Plaintiffs allege that supervisors told them they wanted the old, asbestos-laden materials to simply “disappear” rather than dispose of them in full accordance with federal and state environmental laws, so that Empire District environmental personnel would not find out.

Among their responsibilities, employees were expected to unwind wire insulated with asbestos and separate the wire and its spools into trash cans. They were never given any safety breathing gear nor were they instructed on the proper handling of asbestos-containing materials, its risks and precautions.

The scrap materials also contained polychlorinated biphenyls (also known as PCBs), which employees had to drill into, again without any protective gear or instructions. They were also asked to clean out the coal-fired boilers, contaminating their clothing, personal effects, food, water, and lungs.

Their lawsuit claims Empire was negligent in asking and allowing workers to complete these tasks without protective gear and exposing them to known carcinogens. They would like to establish a medical monitoring program at the plant to track the health of employees, at the cost of the company.

A similar lawsuit in Alabama recently concluded with a $100,000 for the plaintiff, Robert Norwood, who was exposed to asbestos on the job. The 70-year-old man was consequently diagnosed with asbestosis from his exposure at Republic Steel, where he worked as a machinist. Republic contracted with John Crane Inc. for many of its products, many of which contained asbestos. Norwood claimed this use of a known carcinogen was not only negligent but also malicious and in direct violation of the state’s product liability laws.

Norwood worked at Republic for 35 years, during which time he was exposed to inordinate amounts of asbestos through Crane’s negligence. During the two-week trial it was revealed that Crane explicitly knew of the dangers of asbestos as early as the 1970s, but failed to remove it from its products due to its low cost and multitude of applications.

Norwood developed severe asbestosis, which refers to scarring of the lungs and chronic shortness of breath from inhaling asbestos fibers. Most people with asbestosis acquire it through occupational exposure, and, unfortunately, there is no treatment to reverse the effects of asbestos on the lungs.

Asbestos exposure attorneys at Pintas & Mullins Law Firm offer free, no-obligation legal consultations to workers throughout the U.S. who were exposed to asbestos on the job. We understand how confusing and alarming an asbestosis or mesothelioma diagnosis can be, and we are here to help guide you through the process of filing a claim against the negligent party and receiving maximum compensation for your suffering.

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