In Tucker County, West Virginia, four county employees have filed a lawsuit against G.A. Brown & Sons construction company claiming that work done by the company in the Tucker County Courthouse dispersed toxic dust that caused the death of one employee of the assessor’s office, Virginia Wamsley, and potentially harmed others who have entered the courthouse since March 6.
Employees of G.A. Brown & Sons cut a hole in the side of the courthouse to install an elevator, but did not use any type of protective measures to avoid the dispersal of harmful materials. The suit states that the toxic dust contained lead, asbestos, and possibly other harmful substances. The toxic dust was spread throughout the courthouse and both county employees as well as visitors were allegedly exposed.
“The dust was so heavy it clogged the early voting machines,” the claimants’ attorney said. “Anyone who participated in early voting or who has been to the courthouse since March 6 has been exposed.”
After being exposed to the dust, Virginia Wamsley immediately had difficulty breathing and the dust caused immediate damage to her lungs, which was the cause of her contracting pneumonia and other health problems. She was hospitalized many times and even required surgery, but these health problems are what led to her death. The plaintiffs’ attorney said, “Mrs. Wamsley’s doctors told her son that her death was directly caused by the dust she had inhaled.”
The plaintiffs are seeking recovery from G.A. Brown & Sons for all damages caused to Virginia Wamsley, including personal injuries and wrongful death, as well as damages to any other individuals attributed to the exposure to the dust. Plaintiffs have also requested that the construction company be required to hire abatement professionals to eliminate the toxins dispersed because of the company’s negligence. They are also seeking an injunction preventing G.A. Brown & Sons from releasing any additional toxic material into the courthouse.
The suit refers to the failure to provide any protection a violation of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) standards and standards of the construction industry. The courthouse has received only superficial cleaning thus far, and the claimants’ attorney states, “Hopefully, the first action will be to close the courthouse and clean it according to OSHA standard.”
Pulgini & Norton, LLP attorneys have handled workers’ compensation claims for over 25 years in and around Boston and its surrounding areas. If you or a family member has been injured at work and would like to seek legal assistance, please contact us at (781) 843-2200 or (888) 344-2046 or email us.
Lawsuit alleges toxic dust killed courthouse worker, TheInterMountain.com, June 9, 2012