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Massachusetts’ attorney general recently filed a lawsuit against four companies that the state’s chief prosecutor claims improperly removed, transported, and stored asbestos during an abatement project at city YMCA building, which hosts daycare programs and housing. The lawsuit is another in a string of priority enforcement efforts brought by the state’s attorney general to bring asbestos enforcement to bear and is an important part of the office’s effort to protect vulnerable communities in the state and hold wrongdoers accountable.

“We allege that the defendants’ reckless disregard of basic workplace procedures and failure to take proper precautions put the health and safety of workers, building occupants, and the surrounding community at risk,” said Attorney General Maura Healey. “Those who deal with asbestos have a duty to do so in a safe and legal way to protect workers and the public from the serious harms of asbestos exposure, and we will take action against those who don’t comply.”

According to the lawsuit, filed in Suffolk Superior Court, Ray Services Inc., an asbestos abatement company, O’Reilly, Talbot, & Okun Associates, Inc., an environmental consulting company, Allegrone Construction Co., a general contractor, and Service Transport Group, a transportation company, each violated the Massachusetts’ Clean Air Act and corresponding regulations. Defendant Ray Services Inc. allegedly removed dry, spray-on fire-proofing material containing asbestos by scraping the material off ceiling ducts, pipes, and beams in unoccupied classrooms in the building.

The fight for presumptive coverage of cancer continues as North Carolina remains the only state in the country that does not extend this right to firefighters who put their lives on the line each time they suit up and are potentially exposed to a whole host of cancer-causing carcinogens. While the state does extend certain benefits to surviving family members of firefighters who pass away from one of four listed cancers, North Carolina does not pay for medical coverage of the affected firefighter during his or her lifetime, which can leave the victim and his or her family with extraordinary medical bills.

Across the state, North Carolina firefighter groups are lobbying state lawmakers to expand workers’ compensation benefits for firefighters who contract certain forms of cancer and for that diagnosis to be presumed to have been caused due to exposure to toxic chemicals while in the line of service. In 2019, the North Carolina house of representatives passed one such bill that would label nine forms of cancer, including mesothelioma, as occupational diseases and would have provided medical coverage to those affected under North Carolina’s existing Workers’ Compensation Act.

However, the state senate ultimately blocked the bill and has maintained that it as a chamber is opposed to expanding workers’ compensation benefits in the state. Despite the changing situational realities that firefighters face when they rush into burning buildings to save those trapped inside, North Carolina legislators continue to put up barriers to benefits that would help ensure that brave first responders have their healthcare needs taken care of when they receive a devastating cancer diagnosis.

One of the country’s largest railroad companies recently made headlines when it filed a lawsuit against a Montana health clinic that provides aid to asbestos and mesothelioma cancer victims harmed by a now shuttered vermiculite mine, and the railway company itself for the two entities’ roles in spreading carcinogenic asbestos fibers across the area. The company, BNSF Railway, is suing the Center for Asbestos Related Disease, located in Libby, Montana, claiming that the clinic is defrauding the federal government by conducting what the railway calls unnecessary tests and is relying on supposedly inaccurate radiological studies to diagnose asbestos victims in the town and surrounding area.

Though only made public recently, the suit was originally filed back in 2019. The claim asked the federal government to investigate and prosecute the Center for Asbestos Related Disease for fraud against the taxpayer. Fortunately, the federal government declined to intervene on behalf of BNSF Railway, leaving the company to carry the claim on itself under the federal whistleblower statute that allows private entities to bring claims on behalf of the government and receive a portion of any recovery for itself.

The Center for Asbestos Related Disease is one of the few healthcare providers in the country that commits itself to study the health effects of the particular form of asbestos found in the vermiculite mines of Libby. To that end, the Center for Asbestos Related Disease is the leading provider of asbestos-related diagnoses and healthcare to the residents of the small town which found itself at the epicenter of one of the worst environmental cleanups in the United States.

A New York state court recently issued an important ruling in an asbestos cancer lawsuit preventing one of the defendants from attempting to have itself removed from the case and potentially escape liability for its role in the victim’s cancer diagnosis. With the court’s ruling, defendant retailer Lot Less will remain as a defendant to the case while the plaintiff proceeds with the information gathering phase of the litigation in order to establish exactly what the business knew about the safety of the products it sold to consumers like the victim in this case.

According to the mesothelioma cancer lawsuit, filed in the Supreme Court of New York County in 2018, the now deceased plaintiff developed malignant mesothelioma cancer from years of using Johnson & Johnson’s Baby Powder, which was contaminated with deadly asbestos fibers. The plaintiff contends that not only Johnson & Johnson should be held liable for manufacturing the carcinogenic talc-based product, but also retailer Lot Less for selling the product to consumers like the victim. Other defendants named in the case included Bristol-Meyers Squibb, Cyprus Amax Minerals Company, and Whittaker Clark & Daniels.

In its motion for summary judgment, Lot Less argued that the family of the victim, who brought the suit on her behalf, had not yet proven that the Johnson & Johnson product in question actually contained asbestos. Further, the company argued that sellers of defective products generally have an implied right to indemnification, that is that they cannot be held liable for legally selling a product that a manufacturer produced. Fortunately for the plaintiff, the judge hearing the case determined that it would be premature to remove Lot Less from the case since the underlying liability had not yet been established.

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