Florida Air Controllers File Injury Reports, 5 Sue over Chemical Exposure

July 17, 2008

Five Florida air traffic controllers are suing roofing contractors claiming they lost their jobs after being unable to work because of toxic chemical exposure.

The five employees, Barbara Cooper, Shawn Fields, Dan Kersh, Joe Tingler and Tommy Young, claim they were fired when their doctors would not allow them to return to work in the radar room at Jacksonville International Airport’s control tower. They claim continued exposure to a toxic chemical used in a roofing project caused continuing medical problems.

The controllers claim two subcontractors on a tower modernization program were using a chemical on the roof that began dripping down on them, their equipment and furniture.

The workers continued working in the 40-year-old tower for two weeks until one of them collapsed and had to be carried outside to get fire air. More than 30 controllers filed injury reports.

Roofers had assured the workers and their supervisors that the fumes they smelled were harmless.

The substance used to repair the roof was a toxic adhesive known as Fas-n-Free, said Jacksonville attorney Steve Pajcic, who is representing the controllers.

Pajcic provided a copy of a warning from the Fas-n-Free manufacturer, which claims the product can cause skin, eye and lung irritation and allergic respiratory reaction. It recommends that anyone working with the product wear rubber gloves, eye and face protection and use a respirator.

The controllers claim they suffered lung, nerve, heart, brain and psychiatric injuries.

Mark Carter, president of Wells Global of Raleigh, N.C., the contractor on the project, referred questions to his attorney.

“The facts presented were mostly one-sided and not correct. There is two sides to everything,” he said.

An attorney for Carolina Roofing and RoofUSA, Julie Pace, issued a statement via email.

“The company has just received the lawsuit and looks forward to the opportunity to defend itself in court. The company is confident that its employees acted properly and correctly in performing the roofing work at Jacksonville International Airport.”

She said the company denies the allegations that the work was defective or cause ill effects for the Federal Aviation Adminstration employees inside the tower.

Pajcic said his clients are seeking a jury trial.

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