Shipyard workers file asbestos class action against Northrop Grumman

Alejandro de los Rios Apr. 6, 2010, 10:53am

A group of shipyard workers have filed a class action lawsuit against Northrop Grumman Ship Systems Inc. after being exposed to asbestos fibers more than 40 years ago.

The suit, which was filed March 30 in Orleans Parish, alleges that the plaintiffs were exposed to asbestos products while working on the Avondale and Harvey shipyards owned and operated by Northrop Grumman prior to 1976.

Though the proposed class action, led by Ronald Eckerle, does not cite any specific illness contracted by any plaintiff as a result of inhaling asbestos, it claims that Northrop Grumman is liable for all medical examinations and screenings the plaintiffs must undertake as a result of asbestos exposure. The suit claims the shipyards, which were formerly owned by Avondale Industries Inc., were "unreasonably dangerous due to the presence and use of asbestos and asbestos-containing products."

The suit also alleges that Northrop Grumman "knew or should have known through industry and medical studies ... of the health hazards inherent in the asbestos-containing products they were using." The petitioners claim they had no reason to believe that asbestos was dangerous.

Northrop Grumman operates several shipbuilding yards, including the ones at Avondale and Harvey, that manufacture United States naval vessels and employs 19,000 people on the Gulf Coast. But according to a report in Defense News on March 28, the declining need for Navy ships could mean that the Avondale shipyard will be closed in the coming years.

The class action suit was filed by Frank Swarr, Mickey Landry, David Cannella and Philip Hoffman of the Louisiana-based asbestos firm Landry & Swarr.

This is the second asbestos case filed this year by attorneys from Landry & Swarr in Orleans Parish. The other suit was filed against Boland Marine & Industrial LLC on February 23 and is still ongoing.

Orleans Parish Case 2010-03155

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