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Articles Posted in Asbestos

Asbestos is a natural mineral made of fibers that are resistant to corrosion, electricity, and heat. It is because of its qualities that the mineral was widely used in the 20th century. However, even though asbestos boasts of these useful qualities, asbestos is highly toxic. When an individual inhales the asbestos fibers, the fibers can cause mesothelioma, a rare and aggressive type of cancer.

Today, asbestos is no longer being used in most new products and buildings. However, many old buildings, homes, and products still contain this toxic substance. Even after it was discovered that the substance is harmful, most asbestos-containing buildings were not banned. Additionally, many asbestos-containing materials and products were not forcibly removed from circulation, either. As a result, asbestos still poses a threat to homeowners, workers, and many other people.

Many people would want to know what asbestos looks like. Homeowners and renovators, most especially, would want to know how to identify this toxic substance before beginning home construction or renovation. Many schools, homes, and other buildings built before the 1980s contain asbestos, and during construction or renovation, people interact with asbestos-containing materials without even realizing it. Unfortunately, identifying asbestos is not that simple.

According to a July 8, 2021 opinion, Washington Supreme Court reinstated an $81.5 million ruling in full after overturning an appellate court ruling for a wrongful death claim of an auto mechanic. According to the Supreme Court ruling, the Court of Appeals “overstepped the limited role played by appellate courts in the civil justice system and substituted its own subjective judgment for that of the jury and trial courts based on nothing more than the size of the verdict.”

The original claim was brought forward by the family and estate of the deceased mechanic who died in 2015 at the age of 67 of peritoneal mesothelioma. In 2017, after an approximately 12-week trial, a jury unanimously found NAPA Auto Parts and Genuine Parts Corp (GPC) liable in the mechanic’s death and awarded the deceased mechanic’s survivors $81.5 million. In its verdict, the jury found that NAPA and GPC were strictly liable and negligent for their defective asbestos-containing products used by the mechanic. Before his diagnosis and death, the deceased had worked with brake pads containing asbestos, and other parts manufactured by GPC and sold through NAPA for decades.

After the jury awarded the $81.5 million to the deceased’s mechanic’s survivors, GPC and NAPA moved for a new trial or alternatively to have the damages awarded lowered, which the trial court denied. The Court of Appeals then vacated the jury’s $81.5 million verdict and reversed the trial court in part. The Court of Appeals concluded that the trial court made a mistake when it excluded one of NAPA and GPC’s expert witnesses and applied what was referred to as “subjective determination.” The Court of Appeals also concluded that the jury’s award was excessive and ordered a new trial on damages.

Even though mesothelioma and lung cancer are both deadly cancers, they are different diseases. Mesothelioma is a type of cancer that develops in the lining around the lungs and chest when a person inhales asbestos fibers. Asbestos, which is the only known cause of cancerous mesothelioma, is a naturally occurring mineral. The mineral was used as a building material before people became aware of its hazardous properties. Asbestos leads to mesothelioma because it causes changes at a cellular level. This toxic substance triggers inflammation, scarring, and damage that can cause cancer. Usually, when asbestos is disturbed, it releases tiny fibers into the air. When these fibers are inhaled, they get stuck in the pleural lining of the lungs and chest. Asbestos exposure is most prevalent in industrial workplaces.

On the other hand, lung cancer develops in the lungs and not in the lining of the lungs. Unlike mesothelioma, which has one known cause (asbestos), lung cancer has many known causes. Nonetheless, even though lung cancer often occurs because of other factors, the reality is that asbestos exposure can also cause lung cancer. When asbestos fibers get stuck in a person’s lungs, they can develop lung cancer.

After symptoms that suggest a serious lung problem start emerging, an individual might think they have lung cancer, when in fact they have mesothelioma, or vice versa, because both diseases can present a similar set of symptoms. Nonetheless, a history of being exposed to asbestos fibers is what physicians look for when trying to identify mesothelioma specifically. Some of the symptoms people with mesothelioma or lung cancer experience include;

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 effects of COVID-19 have been felt across nearly every facet of life in America, and the courts have certainly been no exception. With health and safety protocols limiting in-person gatherings, many individuals seeking justice through the courts have had their hearings and trials seemingly inevitably delayed until the United States is able to bring the virus under control in order to resume our way of life. However, some have been fortunate in that their cases have been able to continue with relatively modest delay, as in the case of a Minnesota factory worker whose trial is finally scheduled to take place in May 2021.

According to the asbestos cancer lawsuit, filed in Ramsey County District Court in 2019, the now deceased plaintiff was diagnosed with mesothelioma cancer in December 2018, and caused due to his exposure to carcinogenic asbestos fibers from his years of working the the Conwed Corporation’s mineral board plant in Cloquet, Minn. According to media reports, the city of Cloquet has a mesothelioma cancer death rate that is 36% higher than anywhere else in the state of Minnesota, and the rate of diagnosis is up to 70 times higher than the average. The report goes on to state that lung cancer screenings have shown that at least 30% of Condwed’s former employees surveyed have developed mesothelioma.

Mesothelioma is a rare and deadly form of cancer that usually affects vital organs such as the lungs, heart, and abdominal cavity. Developing the disease is directly associated with exposure to asbestos, a mineral that was once used in a variety of commercial, industrial, and military applications for its heat resistant properties and ability to be molded to fit a variety of uses. Conwed Corporation allegedly used asbestos in the construction of its mineral board products at the Cloquet plant from 1958 until 1974, the time period during which the deceased plaintiff was employed at the facility.

The National Cancer Institute recently awarded a $2.5 million grant to a Baylor University medical professor to develop clinical tests that would enable doctors to determine the likelihood of a patient responding to immunotherapy regimens before the patient receives the treatment, which would save certain patients from immune-related adverse events. In recent years, immunotherapy has become a viable treatment to prolong the lives of patients with mesothelioma, but about half of those patients experience adverse events and the research being conducted could potentially identify those likely to have bad outcomes.

Mesothelioma is a rare and deadly form of cancer caused by exposure to asbestos, which was once commonly used in a variety of industrial, commercial, and military applications as an insulation and fire-retardant material. The disease commonly affects the thin linings of tissue surrounding the lungs and heart, but can also affect the tissues surrounding the abdominal cavity before spreading to other parts of the body.

Because mesothelioma has a latency period of anywhere from 20 to 50 years, patients are often left with diminished treatment options by the time the cancer is detected by a physician. As a result, surgery to remove tumors is not an option and patients must turn to radiation treatments to fight the disease, which can harm tissues surrounding the mesothelioma tumors. However, researchers continue to make progress on immunotherapies, which teach the body to use its own disease fighting mechanisms against mesothelioma tumors.

A federal judge in Maine recently denied a defendant’s request to have a mesothelioma cancer lawsuit tossed out on the grounds that the company could not have known about dangerous working conditions alleged by the victim, ruling that the question of foreseeability of injuries should be left for a jury to decide at trial. The defendant, Maine Central Railroad, claimed that it could not have known the victim worked in an environment contaminated with asbestos and therefore could not be held responsible for the victim’s asbestos cancer diagnosis.

According to the plaintiff’s mesothelioma cancer lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court for the District of Maine under the Federal Employers’ Liability Act, the victim operated the Carlton Bridge which connects a railroad line over the Kennebec River between Bath and Woolwich, Maine, which was owned by the defendant. The plaintiff alleged that the walls of the control room, engine room, and operating room of the bridge would shake when trains passed over it and would create dust in his work station.

The plaintiff’s mesothelioma cancer lawsuit asserted that asbestos containing products were used throughout the construction of the bridge and the areas which the victims worked during his tenure with the company, which was the source of his exposure to asbestos fibers. The victim further pointed to an asbestos inspection and abatement program that Maine Central Railroad initiated in 1984 during the twilight years of the plaintiff’s employment company to show that asbestos was eventually detected in his work areas.

A New York City court recently struck down a defendant’s attempt in a mesothelioma cancer lawsuit to have the case thrown out on summary judgment, thus allowing the case to proceed on to trial and allow the victim’s widow to pursue justice on behalf of her deceased husband. The three-judge panel of the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court of New York County upheld the trial judge’s decision to deny defendant’s Port Authority of New York and New Jersey to dismiss the case on the grounds that the plaintiff had attempted to introduce evidence that would be inadmissible under the law.

According to the mesothelioma cancer lawsuit, filed in 2017, the victim worked at the Pan Am Unit Terminal Building at JFK International Airport during the 1970s while employed by Pan Am Airlines. During that time, according to the lawsuit, the victim was routinely exposed to asbestos fibers emanating from ongoing construction, particularly by the sanding of sheetrock manufactured by Georgia-Pacific. The lawsuit asserts that the sheet rock used in the renovations of the terminal where the victim was employed contained asbestos fibers, and that this exposure is what caused the victim’s terminal mesothelioma cancer diagnosis, which he succumbed to in 2016.

Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral that was onced used in a variety of industrial, commercial, construction applications as an insulation and building material. Unfortunately, asbestos fibers are also carcinogenic and despite knowing this public health risk for decades, many asbestos companies continued to use the material and put profits over the value of people.

The New Jersey state supreme court recently allowed a pair of talcum powder cancer lawsuits to proceed to trial. A lower court had overturned another judge’s decision to toss out the matter and effectively rule in favor of the defendant, Johnson & Johnson. Pharmaceutical and cosmetics giant Johnson & Johnson had petitioned the state’s highest court to review the case’s revival after New Jersey’s Appellate Division ruled in August that a lower Superior Court judge had improperly tossed the two cases after determining that plaintiffs’ expert witnesses were not credible.

“The trial judge was called upon to assess whether the opinions were the product of reliable data and employed methodologies accepted by the scientific community,” the three-judge Appellate Division panel wrote. “Instead, he selected defendants’ scientific methodologies over plaintiffs’, a process well beyond the gatekeeping function, and which resulted in an abuse of discretion.”

According to one of the two talcum powder cancer lawsuits, filed in 2014 in Atlantic County Superior Court, the victims developed ovarian cancer from years of using Johnson & Johnson’s talc-based Baby Powder. Other similar lawsuits filed against Johnson & Johnson claim that the company knew for decades about possible links between long term use of its talcum powder cosmetics products and women developing ovarian cancer and other serious forms of cancer.

Pharmaceutical and cosmetics giant Johnson & Johnson recently challenged the bankruptcy plan of its long-time talc supplier, Imerys Talc USA, asserting that the defunct American subsidiary’s plan to create a liability trust related to talcum powder asbestos cancer lawsuits is a way to immunize its French parent company. Imerys Talc USA was once embroiled in 14,000 asbestos cancer lawsuits with Johnson & Johnson brought by consumers and surviving family members who claim that they or their deceased loved ones developed serious forms of cancer, including mesothelioma, from years of using consumer cosmetics products such as Baby Powder and Shower to Shower.

Johnson & Johnson currently faces an estimated 22,000 talcum powder asbestos cancer lawsuits in state and federal courts across the country, and therefore has a keen interest to oppose the bankruptcy plan under review. In November 2020, French parent company Imerys SA sold all of its North American holdings at auction to Canadian company Magris for $223 million, which will be placed into a liability trust for victims to draw compensation from and spare the French company any more legal trouble over the same or similar claims.

Plaintiffs claimed that Johnson & Johnson knew for decades that the talc sourced and mined by Imerys USA to create its iconic Baby Powder contained asbestos, a known carcinogen directly linked to developing mesothelioma cancer. Mesothelioma commonly affects thin linings of tissue surrounding vital organs such as the lungs and heart, as well as the abdominal cavity, before spreading to other parts of the body. Lawsuits filed across the country have been based on documentation of internal company memos showing that Johnson & Johnson was aware of the risk of asbestos contamination in its talc but chose not to provide any warning to consumers.

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