Lawsuit claims man died from exposure to asbestos

FONDA – The family of a man who spent part of his career as a plumber is suing a local plumbing company, saying it’s responsible for his death from mesothelioma after he came in repeated contact with asbestos.

Josephine Jaworski, the widow of Joseph Jaworski, filed the suit on behalf of herself and her late husband’s estate in state Supreme Court in Fonda on Feb. 22 against A. Mormile Plumbing & Heating of Amsterdam. Among the claims in the lawsuit are wrongful death, negligence and loss of consortium.

The lawsuit doesn’t specify an amount Josephine Jaworski is seeking in damages.

This is the second lawsuit Josephine Jaworski has filed against the company. A similar suit claiming negligence filed in state Supreme Court in Johnstown in June 2011 named more than 100 other defendants, including CBS, Ford, General Electric, Goodyear and Sears, but the case was disposed before coming to trial, according to court records.

According to his obituary, Joseph Jaworski was 83 years old when he died July 17, 2011 – less than a month after the first lawsuit was filed.

The obituary says he owned a vending company and spent 30 years as an Amsterdam firefighter after starting his career in the plumbing industry. According to state pension records, Jaworski retired from the Fire Department on Oct. 31, 1976.

Neither lawsuit specifies when Jaworski was employed by A. Mormile Plumbing & Heating. The 2011 lawsuit says “for a period of many years” Jaworski was exposed to asbestos “while working in various shipyards, steel mills, refineries, paper mills, chemical plants, industrial sites and other facilities” or was exposed through normal use of asbestos products.

The lawsuits also don’t say when he was diagnosed with mesothelioma, a form of cancer frequently caused by asbestos exposure.

James Mormile, an owner of the plumbing company, said the company has not been served with the lawsuit and declined to comment on it. But he said the company Jaworski would have worked for no longer exists.

The family has been in the plumbing and heating business for four generations, spanning more than 90 years, but the company being sued has been incorporated only since 1985, according to state Department of State records. The 2011 lawsuit also named the Mormile Wholesale Plumbing & Heating Supply Corp., which no longer exists as an active corporation, according to Department of State Records.

Josephine Jaworski’s attorney, Richard White, a partner in the Manhattan-based Belluck & Fox firm, did not return a phone message seeking comment. Belluck & Fox specializes in mesothelioma and asbestos-related cases, according to its website.

The lawsuit says while working for A. Mormile Plumbing & Heating, Joseph Jaworski was repeatedly exposed to asbestos fibers and dust. The suit says the company should have known “their asbestos products would cause the release of asbestos fibers and dust into the ambient air, creating danger and unreasonable risk of injury and harm to those breathing the air contaminated with such asbestos fibers and dust.”

The lawsuit claims A. Mormile Plumbing & Heating was negligent by not warning the public or its employees of the danger of asbestos products. It also says the company didn’t test products for hazards, didn’t tell employees of the need for protection, failed to enforce or adopt safety protocols, and didn’t “remove their asbestos products from the stream of commerce despite knowledge of the unsafe and dangerous nature of those products,” among other claims.

The suit claims wrongful death, because Jaworski allegedly sustained asbestos-related injuries, diseases and illness that led to his death, and resulted in his family suffering damages, including loss of his “income, support, inheritance, care and assistance,” as well as the family incurring medical, funeral and other expenses. It also claims loss of consortium for his widow.

Other causes of action in the lawsuit include breach of warranty, because the company allegedly said its asbestos products were “of good and merchantable quality,” and strict liability, because the company allegedly knew products would reach consumers without substantial changes from their original form.

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