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A 61-year-old man named Lewis Williamson filed a lawsuit against Morehead State University (MSU) for health problems he believes were caused by asbestos exposure during his time as a student and employee. He’s only expected to live another two years with the asbestos disease he developed.
Williamson was at MSU collectively for a total of seven years. First, from 1998-2002 for his nursing degree, and then again from 2004-2007 to work as a multi-media lab coordinator in the Department of Nursing. He claims nearly 100 buildings on-campus potentially contain asbestos.
Asbestos exposure has been attributed to being the root of many types of health complications, with some being more serious than others. Many affect the respiratory system and can impact breathing and lung function.
The lawsuit was filed on August 11 in the Rowan Circuit Court seeking $1 million in lost wages, $1 million in pain and suffering, and $20 million in punitive damages. Williamson says his related health problems have made him unable to work since 2010. The compliant is for negligence and intentional disregard of the asbestos risks that led to his exposure.
Williamson is also asking for a class action suit against the 100 asbestos-ridden MSU buildings and hopes a $1 billion trust fund can be created for the medical expenses and damages numerous others might experience in the future.
“I don’t care if I get anything. Anyone who walks in those buildings is at risk to exposure,” he said. “Until I publicize this, they’re not going to address the situation. This has been going on for years, since 1980 at least. In essence, they don’t value the lives of their students, employees, and visitors.”
Even though asbestos was once considered a “miracle mineral” for its excellent fire and heat-resistant properties, experts now agree that no amount of exposure to the hazardous material is safe.
Williamson was diagnosed with asbestos disease in 2014 by Dr. Ayesha Sikder after the four years of being unable to work and returning to Kentucky. He had been working on a Native American reservation in Arizona before that.
“I got offered a job out west and got sick and spent around four years being unable to work. I came back to Kentucky and sought medical care. The x-rays came back and I didn’t have anything. But I had this constant pain,” he explained. “After Obamacare came, I got insurance and they paid for a CT scan. That’s how I found out.”
MSU would not comment on the filed lawsuit, but Williamson stated he’s not giving up and doesn’t care if he gets anything for himself from the lawsuit. As a nurse, his job is to protect people hence the litigation to ensure MSU takes the appropriate actions to protect people on its campus.
“They’re going to pay one way or the other. Too many people have been exposed,” said Williamson.