Edwardsville, IL – Carson Menges, the attorney representing the plaintiff, told the jurors in Madison County court on Tuesday that the quantity of asbestos fibres in a can of joint compound manufactured by Georgia Pacific decades back would stretch past the Mars if they are laid end-to-end.
The trail, which is playing out at the court of Associate Judge Hon. Stephen Stobbs, was a very rare incident in the busiest asbestos court in the United States.
The suit was filed by Kansas resident James Reef in 2012 December. Dozens of companies have been named in the suit as defendants. The defendants, including Georgia Pacific, manufactured, distributed, sold or used products containing asbestos. All the companies except Georgia Pacific settled the lawsuit out of court. Georgia Pacific is the only defendant which decided to take the lawsuit to court trial. Reef is 69 years old.
According to the suit, Reef started his carpentry in year 1965 when he was only 19 years old. He claimed that he spent nearly half of his time working on drywalls using the joint compound paste manufactured and marketed by Georgia Pacific. Reef alleged that the compound contained asbestos.
Reef was diagnosed with mesothelioma in 2012 October. Reef claimed that he developed the terminal cancer because of his exposure to Georgia Pacific’s joint compound which contained toxic asbestos. Inhalation or ingestion of asbestos fibres is the only known reason for mesothelioma. Mesothelioma is incurable. The victims typically die within a year.
Anne Ksionzyk, one of the witnesses for Georgia Pacific, took the stand. Menges questioned him first. Ksionzyk has been working as an employee of Georgia Pacific since year 1982.
Ksionzyk testified that a 3.2 pound ready mix compound can contained approximately 1.2 pounds of asbestos. Menges said that 1 pound of asbestos would stretch nearly 450 miles and if the fibres are placed end-to-end the distance would past the red planet.
However, Georgia Pacific argued that Reef contracted mesothelioma from asbestos present at insulation products, not from the company’s products. The court ruled in favor of the company.
After the verdict, Georgia Pacific said the company is satisfied with the court decision. It said the company has sympathy for the plaintiff Mr. Reef and his family. However, Reef’s cancer was actually caused by factors not at all linked to Georgia Pacific’s products, the company said.