Mississippi man sues Dutch company over asbestos exposure

Michelle Massey Apr. 19, 2010, 9:24am

A Mississippi resident claims he inhaled asbestos particles and metal dust while working aboard a vessel in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, and claims the foreign company is liable under the Jones Act.

James Pierson Watson Jr. filed suit against Heerema Marine Contractors Nederland B.V., also known as Heerema Group, on March 9 in the 17th Judicial District Court for the Parish of Lafourche.

Heerema claims the incident has no connection to United States law, including the Jones Act, and is not applicable to the plaintiff's claims.

In a request for removal to federal court in New Orleans filed April 8, Heerema states that the application of the Jones Act "is clearly without merit and was fraudulently alleged in an effort to prevent removal of this claim."

During October and November 2009, Watson states he worked aboard the vessel M/V Thialf removing seawater cooling pipes by grinding the pipes and valves.

During November, an asbestos inspector determined the vessel had dangerous substances present and Watson was told he had been exposed to blue and white asbestos dust during the grinding process.

According to Watson's lawsuit, prior to, during and immediately after the asbestos inspection, he was experiencing severe breathing problems and was taken to a Rotterdam hospital for treatment.

Watson claims the exposure to the asbestos and metal dust has rendered him totally and permanently disabled.

He claims the Heerema failed to provide him with a safe place in which to work, did not provide appropriate safety equipment, failed to properly supervise his activities to maintain appropriate safety standards and failed to provide proper training.

Watson is seeking damages for pain and suffering, mental anguish, disfigurement, medical expenses, loss of income, loss of consortium, maintenance and cure, and contractual and punitive damages.

Heerema was employed by Meridian International, a company organized under the laws of the United Kingdom, the complaint states.

Baton Rouge attorneys Richard J. Dodson and Michael T. Beckers of Dodson, Hooks & Frederick APLC are representing Watson.

U.S. District Judge Mary Ann Vial Lemmon is assigned to the case.

Case No 2:10cv01073

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