A Soldier’s Story of the Hazards of Asbestos-Containing Brakes and Clutches
“I will live till I die and then I will be dead for a hell of a long time.”
–Retired U.S. Army soldier Haskell “Bud” Stillman in his memoirs, He Bleeds Olive Drab
Bud Stillman, 82, spent 20 years as a decorated soldier. During his first tour of duty in the U.S. Army, he served in Japan where he met his future wife, Kay. In order to return to Japan to find her, he re-enlisted to serve in Korea during the Korean War. He went on to marry Kay and continue his service to our country. He later served in the Vietnam War and was awarded the Bronze Star.
Exposure to asbestos-containing brakes and clutches
While in the Army, Mr. Stillman oversaw and performed maintenance on hundreds of vehicles which had asbestos-containing brakes and clutches. After retiring as a Chief Warrant Officer, he became a mechanic and then maintenance supervisor for several fleets of heavy duty rental trucks. He regularly breathed dust from the asbestos brakes and clutches on these trucks.
Mr. Stillman was diagnosed with mesothelioma in July 2010. Kazan Law filed suit on his behalf in August 2010 against the manufacturers and suppliers of the asbestos products he used in his work. [Haskell “Bud” Stillman and Shizue “Kay” Stillman v. Eaton Corporation, et al. (2011) Alameda County Superior Court Case No. RG10528222]
He began trial against several defendants in July 2011, but by opening statements only Eaton Corporation remained. Eaton manufactured many of the heavy duty brakes Mr. Stillman used and encountered during his career.
Manufacturers were aware of asbestos hazards
The evidence at trial showed that Eaton received information about the hazards of asbestos from the manufacturers of the brake linings it used in making the brake systems it supplied, but never passed those warnings on to end users like Mr. Stillman.
Mr. Stillman resolved his case with Eaton during jury deliberations in October 2011.
He enjoys spending time with his wife of many years, Kay, and his children, Mike and Grace, and his grandchildren, although he is no longer able to go on his weekly fishing trips. He looks forward to welcoming his first great-grandchild in May 2012.
Mr. Stillman sums it up in the closing pages of his book–
“My life-long partner, my friend, my lover and wife and I, head down the down-hill side of our journey arm-in-arm. Each time I look at her, the one thing that comes to mind is the words of this song: The only dream that matters has come true. In this life, I was loved by you.”