Salt Lake City, Utah -- October 26, 2001 -- Heirs of the late U.S. Congressman Gunn McKay have filed suit in Utah 3rd District Court against six asbestos companies, charging that his death was the result of asbestos exposure. The McKay family is represented by Robert Gilchrist and Alan Brayton of Brayton Purcell. The defendants are ACandS Inc.; L.H. Butcher Co.; Quintec Industries Inc.; Waldron, Duffy, Inc.; Bullough Abatement, Inc., and Pneumo-Abex Corp.
Rep. McKay served in the House of Representatives from 1970 to 1980. He died of mesothelioma at the age of 75. The disease is a rare cancer of the "mesothelial cells" that comprise various membranes in a person's chest, abdominal cavity, or the pleura that encases the lungs. Mesothelioma is almost always caused by asbestos exposure. Its symptoms may not become apparent until many years after the first exposure to the substance.
"He was in great health, and all of a sudden he was diagnosed and dead within a year," Gilchrist said of McKay. "He died a painful and unexpected death, and as many of our clients, the family was upset by the fact that this could have happened." The suit seeks damages for the loss of a husband and father. Based on a charge of wrongful death, the lawsuit states that the asbestos companies knew or should have known that asbestos products were dangerous, but did not warn the public or take any reasonable steps to prevent asbestos exposure.
Rep. McKay was most likely exposed to asbestos when he served in the Coast Guard during World War II, Gilchrist said. The congressman also may have been exposed to asbestos when he taught at schools that were being remodeled or performed repairs on old boilers and pipes at his home.