Frank Lowery was born in Birmingham, Alabama in 1940. A once avid antique collector and seller, Frank struggled for every last breath until he died of mesothelioma in early 2004 at age 63. Frank left behind his wife of almost 25 years, Christine, a 22-year-old son, and four other children from a previous marriage.
Frank began working in Birmingham at the age of 16 as a laborer assisting brickmasons for about one year. He then assisted sheetrockers starting around 1957 and began finishing drywall in 1958. He worked with drywall from 1958 to 1989 in Alabama, Florida, Iowa, and Colorado.
Frank did residential and commercial work, but he preferred commercial and government jobs because they were bigger and lasted longer. He worked with joint compound every day of his career. The way it was worked with didn’t change much over the span of his 30+ year career, and he used sandpaper throughout. He vividly described the dust generated from mixing bagged joint compound with water and using an electric drill with a paddle. Even though it was more expensive, once the ready-mix was released, he switched to that, because it worked better and was easier. The ready-mix wasn’t dusty when opened, but it generated the same amount of dust when sanded.
Frank and Christine never imagined that Frank’s work over the years with asbestos-containing joint compounds as a drywaller would come back to haunt them someday. However, on September 17, 2003, doctors confirmed that Frank Lowery suffered from mesothelioma. Frank’s dreams of traveling with his wife, perusing flea markets and antique shows, and “having a little fun” never materialized. Instead, he spent his days struggling to breathe as Christine watched in horror.
In June 2006, Christine’s case was tried in Texas under Florida law. After less than 2 weeks of trial, the jury found Bondex International liable for Mrs. Lowery’s suffering. She hopes that “the jury’s decision will cause manufacturers of potentially harmful products to carefully consider the impact of what selling those products does to unknowing workers and their families.”