Cook County Judge Clare E. McWilliams is judge in the court case Eileen Riebel, et al. v. 3M Company, et al. Eileen Reibel is the plaintiff. She filed her initial complaint on behalf of her husband, Fred Reibel (“Decedent”), who died recently from malignant mesothelioma. 

On November 26, 2019, Judge McWilliams granted a premises defendant’s personal jurisdiction motion which says that the contractual relationship between the decedent’s Illinois-based employer and an out-of-state premises defendant was not enough to create specific person jurisdiction. It also didn’t meet the minimum contacts with the state. 

Fred Reibel’s disease was caused by exposure to several defendant’s asbestos-containing materials manufactured in Illinois and Indiana. The exposure occurred during his 29 year long career. One of these defendants was United States Steel Corporation, also known as U.S. Steel. 

Plaintiff stated, along with other things, “negligence against U.S. Steel as a result of [the Decedent’s] exposure” to asbestos containing products at a few of U.S. Steel’s facilities, namely U.S. Steel’s Gary, Indiana facility. After some amendments to the complaint, plaintiff admitted exposure to U.S. Steels’ South Works facility that is located in Chicago, Illinois. After that, plaintiff admitted that decedent never actually worked at any U.S. Steel facility in Illinois. Knowing this, U.S. Steel wanted dismissal since Illinois lacked specific personal jurisdiction. 

Plaintiff then argued that, when U.S. Steel contracted with the decedent’s employer, M&O Insulation Company, an Illinois contractor, it created minimum contacts with Illinois. This contract especially created contacts because U.S. Steel, plaintiff claims, contracted with Illinois in order to employ Illinois workers for both maintenance and construction work at its facility in Gary, Indiana. Here plaintiff introduced an altogether new idea that the dust the decedent got on his clothes and brought home after the work day was very likely asbestos dust or at least contained asbestos. If this were the case, exposure would not have stopped even after he got back to Illinois. U.S. Steel then said that the location of the contractor it hired was not strategic. Also, there is not enough evidence to say that the dust brought home on decedent’s clothes was or contained asbestos. 

The Court’s decision was that this specific case cannot be done in Illinois, but must be done in Indiana. The U.S. Steel’s contract with M&O failed to meet the minimum contact with Illinois. Also, the claim that decedent brought asbestos dust home on his clothes does not have sufficient evidence.  

Asbestos is a very dangerous mineral that is naturally mined. It is banned in almost a third of the countries of the world. It causes many types of cancer, the most common being pleural mesothelioma. The decedent in this lawsuit died from mesothelioma, only a different type—malignant. Asbestos causes by getting into and staying in the victim’s lungs. The lungs, then grow tumors, which develop into cancer decades after the original exposure. Evidently, exposure to asbestos is a bad thing. That’s why we remove asbestos from homes and buildings. Call us today at (708) 367-3381 to ask about asbestos testing and removal. 

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