According to the Southeast Texas Record, a weekly legal journal covering Jefferson and Orange Counties, Robert Earl Woods is suing Union Carbide, BP, Amoco, Dow, Chevron, Shell, and Texaco for the death of his relative, Willie E. Woods.
Willie Woods, who died in 2007 as a result of lung cancer induced by working for 20 years in the refining, petrochemical and construction industries, was the victim of careless safety practices which exposed him to asbestos fibers in his occupation as a pipe insulator, according to the Houston law firm of Williams, Kherkher, Hart, and Boundas.
A recent article in the Scandinavian Journal of Work, Environment and Health establishes a definitive link, based on extensive investigation, between asbestos in oil refineries and pleural mesothelioma. This link, established by the work of Dr. Wong, shows that asbestos used in the oil industry creates a mortality risk of 77 (on a scale of 1 to 100) for developing mesothelioma.
Asbestos releases tiny fibers that, inhaled into the lungs, can irritate lung tissue, leading to persistent inflammatory lesions. These lesions, in turn, cause a form of lung cancer known as mesothelioma. It takes from two to five decades for the symptoms of mesothelioma to exhibit, but once they do victims usually die within two years.
Half a lifetime of exposure in the petroleum industry is inarguably enough time to develop the disease. In fact, asbestos exposures as low as 2 parts-per-million can trigger lesions, and none of the disease monitoring or reporting agencies – including OSHA, the CDC, and the American Cancer Society – has ever established minimum, safe levels of asbestos exposure.
The lawsuit, which was filed on February 2, 2009 in Galveston County District Court, Texas, noted that Willie E. Woods was not only exposed in his work, but surrounded by others who were equally exposed, all of them returning home with asbestos particles in their clothing, exposing yet more individuals to the potential for developing mesothelioma or other asbestos-related diseases, including lung cancer, cancer of the pharynx, cancer of the esophagus, stomach cancer, colon cancer, cancer of the rectum, and asbestosis.
The suit further alleges that the deceased Woods, once an active man who participated in numerous hobbies and pastimes, was so incapacitated by his injuries from asbestos that the quality of his life deteriorated considerably long before his death. The suit is seeking damages not merely for death but for impairment, disfigurement, pain, suffering, and mental anguish, as well as medical expenses, funeral expenses and the cost of interment.
The defendants are cited for a number of violations, including but not restricted to negligence, misrepresentation, and civil conspiracy, and the plaintiff’s lawyers are asking for a jury trial.