An asbestos lawsuit filed in the Madison, Mississippi County court, has been moved to federal court. On Friday, February 8, United Technologies Corp. (UTC) petitioned to move the suit—filed against UTC by twenty defendants—to federal court. The lead defendants in this care are a Mississippi couple, Walter and Ruby Leggett. Walter was exposed to asbestos fibers in United Technologies Corp. products while he served in the United States Air Force, and later developed lung cancer.
Mr. Leggett served in the Air Force from 1957 to 1977, working as a mechanic, plumber, electrician, construction worker and machine operator; in June of 2011, he discovered he had lung cancer, caused by asbestos exposure. His suit against UTC accuses the company of disregarding care and caution for his safety by using asbestos in their products; the defendants knew or should have known the hazards associated with friable asbestos. The Leggetts’ suit is seeking $50,000 in damages, including counts for negligence, willful and wanton conduct, conspiracy, negligent spoliation of evidence and strict liability. UTC was served with the complaint on Jan. 11, 2013; based on the U.S. Code’s federal officer removal provision, the company requested the suit be moved to federal court.
UTC claims the removal provision applies in this case, because it worked as government contractor when it manufactured aircraft engines for the Air Force. UTC is represented by William Shultz Jr. of Kurwoski Shultz; the Leggetts are represented by Steven Aroesty of Napoli Bern. This suit is the second asbestos-related lawsuit inside a month to be moved from Madison County to federal court. Earlier in February, CBS Corp. moved an asbestos suit (with thirty defendants, many with asbestos-related diseases) to federal court.
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