Asbestos Trial To Resume

An asbestos case that resumes Tuesday in Jackson County Circuit Court has drawn the attention of several other law firms with similar pending litigation. The trial is the first asbestos case on the Mississippi coast since 1993. It began last week in Pascagoula.

``There are still a ton of asbestos cases out there that may go to trial,'' said Skip Lynch, a Pascagoula attorney and one of the observers. ``They usually settle'' before trial, Lynch said, but the trial's outcome could help determine what happens to 4,500 similar cases waiting to be tried. The case is being watched partly because other law firms have five asbestos trials set for the fall and early winter in Mississippi, including in George County in December.

In the case before Circuit Judge Dale Harkey, the families of six men who worked at Ingalls Shipbuilding claim the men's health was damaged by asbestos released from their work mittens. They are suing Wheeler Protective Apparel, which made the mittens, and Scott Technologies Safety Supply, which sold them to Ingalls. The suit claims the men developed asbestosis from breathing asbestos particles. The six men are all deceased. One was a marine inspector and the others were welders, burners, heaters and straighteners, and fan men who worked in the bowels of ships under construction.

At one time, more than 100 defendants were being sued, but those claims have been settled. The two companies remaining in the lawsuit won a similar case in 1993.