Family's sues over father's mesothelioma death

Michelle Massey Mar. 27, 2010, 4:32am

More than 50 years after their father worked around asbestos products, the family of a deceased longshoreman is suing several New Orleans companies in a case that was removed from Orleans Parish to federal court.

Calvin Stevens, Mark Stevens and Juanita Stevens Arena are suing Cooper/T. Smith Stevedoring Co., Ports America Gulfport, James J. Flanagan Shipping Corp., ALCOA Steamship Co., Dixie Machine Welding & Metal Works, Eagle, Inc., and Skank, Inc.

The plaintiffs claim their father was exposed to continuous and substantial amounts of asbestos fibers while he was employed as a longshoreman in the Port of New Orleans from 1945 to 1956. According to the lawsuit, Green Stevens, Sr. unloaded and loaded asbestos cargoes containing raw asbestos fibers and asbestos containing products. The suit also alleges that he suffered bystander exposure to asbestos from insulation and asbestos contractors who worked in his area.

Green Stevens was diagnosed with malignant, pleural mesothelioma in September 2008 and he succumbed to the disease in February 2009.

The plaintiffs claim the defendants are negligent for concealing medical information, concealing inherent dangers of handling asbestos cargos, concealing the dangers of using or being around the use of asbestos, failing to provide necessary protection including clean, breathable air and proper ventilation and failing to provide showers and special clothing.

With the causative exposure occurring before 1976, the plaintiffs state that there was no legal immunity provided to employers under the workmen compensation statutes of Louisiana.

The case was originally filed in the Civil District Court for the Parish of New Orleans but removed to the New Orleans federal court in the Eastern District of Louisiana on March 25.

Cooper/T. Smith Stevedoring argues it is immune to the plaintiffs' claims due to the Longshore and Harbor Worker's Compensation Act and has filed third-party claims against Industrial Development Corporation of South Africa, whose sole shareholder is the South African government.

The family is seeking damages for loss of consortium, loss of society, loss of services and support, lost benefits, pain and suffering, and reimbursement for the decedent's medical bills, funeral and burial expenses.

New Orleans attorneys Scott R. Bickford and Neil F. Nazareth of the law firm Martzell & Bickford, A.P.C. represent the plaintiffs.

U.S. District Judge Mary Ann Vial Lemmon will preside over the case.

Case No 2:10cv00968

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