A long-running legal battle over Willis “Charley” Eddenfield’s 2011 death from pleural mesothelioma has entered a new phase, as Eddenfield’s widow begins her lawsuit against asbestos company Union Carbide in a New Jersey state court. Mrs. Eddenfield’s wrongful death lawsuit accuses Union Carbide of failing to warn workers about the dangers of the asbestos that killed her husband after he’d spent years handling the product at an industrial site in New Jersey. When the case had been heard by Judge Ana Viscomi of New Jersey’s consolidated asbestos docket in 2015, she had granted Union Carbide summary judgment after they argued that there was no witness testimony supporting the idea that Union Carbide had provided the asbestos products at Eddenfield’s worksite, but an appeals court reversed that decision, allowing the current case to proceed.
Eddenfield’s malignant mesothelioma was traced back to the forty-year-period between 1954 and 1994, when we worked at a Bloomfield, New Jersey site operated by National Starch and other companies. As part of his job responsibilities he was often tasked with going to a “mill room” to fetch materials that contained asbestos that were used throughout the site. Because Eddenfield died of the terminal disease before he could be deposed and asked specific questions about those products, there has long been a question about its provenance, and whether Union Carbide could be held responsible. But Eddenfield’s attorney plans to submit evidence of invoices proving that Union Carbide was one of the asbestos companies that supplied the worksite, as well as to provide testimony from two of his coworkers. This evidence, which shows that Union Carbide provided over 40,000 pounds of asbestos-contaminated materials to the location, was what had swayed the appeals court to overturn the original judge’s summary judgment decision.
As is true in many mesothelioma lawsuits, the picture that has been painted in the courtroom is that of a work environment where asbestos dust floated in the air as an everyday occurrence, while workers were provided with little more than a paper dust mask to protect them. Evidence was also submitted indicating that Union Carbide was well aware that asbestos was dangerous and that those exposed to it needed greater protection than that. To defend itself, Union Carbide is now adopting a position indicating that the type of asbestos that they provided has not been tied to malignant mesothelioma. The jury trial is expected to last about four weeks.
If you are in a position similar to that of Mrs. Eddenfield and have lost a loved one to mesothelioma, we can provide you with valuable support and resources to help you. Contact the Patient Advocates at Mesothelioma.net at 1-800-692-8608.