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Fullerton : Suit Involving Asbestos Filed on Schools’ Behalf

A Los Angeles law firm filed a $19-million lawsuit last week on behalf of the Fullerton School District against firms and individuals who allegedly played a role in installing asbestos in the district’s schools.

However, district administrators said they had not been consulted by the Gould & Sayre law firm before the suit was filed in Orange County Superior Court.

The district spent about $300,000 in removing asbestos from its 18 schools following an order from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency two years ago to inspect schools for the insulation material, which is believed to cause cancer.

Supt. Duncan Johnson, who said he had not been aware of the suit until contacted by a reporter, said the district hopes to recover the money spent on removing the asbestos. But he would not say whether the district was satisfied with the filing of the suit.

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Bill Moore, assistant superintendent for business services, also would not comment on whether the district or the Board of Trustees, which hired the law firm but did not approve a lawsuit, were pleased with the action. He would only confirm that “the administration was not aware of the filing of that suit.”

Attorneys from the law firm were not immediately available for comment. The suit filed by the Los Angeles firm is one of at least three court actions involving asbestos and companies that manufacture the material, Moore said. Earlier, the Fullerton district joined a class-action lawsuit filed against a major manufacturer of asbestos. The school district also will be affected by the outcome of a class-action suit pending in Philadelphia, Moore said.

Most of the asbestos removal costs incurred by the district came from work done at Parks Junior High School. Completed in 1970, the school’s roof was underlined with asbestos, Johnson said. The district includes 14 elementary schools, three junior high schools and one community center.


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