A Knoxville, Tennessee widow received a tentative settlement this month on her asbestos lawsuit. The case is continued on behalf of her late husband, a former South-Doyle High School teacher who passed away from mesothelioma.Knoxville News Sentinel reports that Mike LaSorsa filed an asbestos lawsuit against the city of Knoxville and Knox County Schools after he developed mesothelioma while working around asbestos-containing materials (ACMs) at the high school. He passed away in 2011 before his lawsuit was complete, but his wife took over on his behalf.
The tentative settlement happened shortly after asbestos was recently found in the roof South-Doyle’s library, something that had never been notated before. Even after finding the asbestos, the school district doesn’t have plans to check other schools. According to the Knox County Schools’ supervisor of environmental services, Rob Riley, the asbestos on the roof was an oversight.
“That was an oversight on (the engineering firm’s) part — that’s the only explanation for it. I deal with the reports all the time, and we don’t find any egregious errors like that. I’m hoping its one in a hundred.”
Yet, LaSorsa’s deposition, filed at the Knox County Circuit Court, states that he saw “big old pipes all wrapped in this white stuff” falling down from the ceiling during his time working as a teacher at the school from 1991-1997. He claimed he had to keep cloths and rags in the room so that kids could dust off their desks. According to Riley, the pipes LaSorsa described were actually crackling asbestos spray that was used on the pipes.
LaSorsa also stated that the pipe debris was overwhelming that he had to sweep it up at least two to three times each day. During his deposition, he said he had no idea until later that there could have been asbestos in the debris.
“I didn’t realize later — until later that maybe that might have been asbestos. I didn’t know that.”
LaSorsa’s lawsuit against the city has already been settled, but the family is scheduled for a bench trial against Knox City Schools this month.
Meanwhile, Knox City Schools Superintendent Jim McIntyre informed parents that the school has already made plans to start an asbestos abatement project on the library ceiling at the school.
“The reason we’re talking about this, is because it’s the sort of spray-on insulation material and that’s — the possibility of that becoming … loose and coming into the air is potentially greater than if it’s contained in floor tile. That’s why this is a bit more urgent and why we made a more immediate decision around it.”
The estimated cost to clean up the asbestos is around $250,000, which will be followed by asbestos air tests to ensure the air is safe.
The amount of the LaSorsa’s family settlement compensation is still being finalized. Deputy Law Director of Knox County, Dave Sanders, declined to comment on the details of the case.
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