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Articles Posted in Asbestos

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.

Researchers at a Scottish university are developing a new laser system that will help physicians distinguish between cancer tumor cells and healthy tissues, and allow them to remove the cancerous cells while leaving healthy surrounding tissue intact. To help further this research, the UK’s Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council has bestowed the project’s leader, Prof. Jonathan Shephard a 1.2 GBP grant and will further collaborate with the University of Leeds and Leeds Teaching Hospital NHS Trust to develop the new system for brain cancers.

As one consultant surgeon at the Leeds trust noted, “the precision of a laser combined with imaging to accurately discriminate cancer from normal tissue will greatly enhance the ability of surgeons to completely remove cancers with minimal side-effects for patients.”

According to Shephard, the “laser system can remove cancer cells in a way that restricts damage to the surrounding, healthy cells – within the width of a human hair. Because the laser pulses are so short, there is no time for heat to burn the surrounding tissue, as happens with current surgical tools.” Shepherd’s team is also working to develop a flexible, optical fibre system that can be used to target and remove cancer cells on an even smaller scale than the current technology allows.

A Washington state court recently issued a strong penalty against a defendant in a mesothelioma cancer lawsuit for what the judge determined to be willful withholding of evidence by the defendant and false statements by defense counsel. In determining that the defendant, PACCAR, Inc. willfully violated rules of civil discovery procedure to produce evidence in the asbestos cancer lawsuit, the Pierce County Superior Court ruled that the defendant must pay the plaintiff $150,000, as well as attorneys fees for the time the plaintiff’s lawyers spent litigating the matter over the evidence in question.

The evidence in question in the mesothelioma cancer lawsuit concerned blueprints of trucks manufactured by a subsidiary of PACCAR, Kenworth, which contained information such as what companies supplied brakes, engines, axels, clutches, etc. Additionally, the blueprints, known as “build sheets” would contain information regarding the part’s model number and the totality of the information from the buildsheets would be of value to the plaintiff’s case that he developed mesothelioma from asbestos containing parts manufactured by the defendant and/or its subsidiary, which the victim’s employer purchased and maintained.

In response to the plaintiff’s request for build sheets of Kenworth vehicles, the defendant and its counsel responded by asserting that the build sheets could only be searched if the plaintiff could provide a vehicle information number for the truck make in question, that there were no records of to what entities the Kenworth trucks were ultimately sold, and that the build sheets were kept on microfiche and it would be too burdensome to hand search each build sheet. The court subsequently ordered PACCAR to turn over 10 randomly selected build sheets so that the plaintiffs and the court could have a better understanding of the information contained therein.

A recently published study by researchers at the University of Hawaii has uncovered a possible link between carrying a particular genetic mutation and developing mesothelioma, particularly if the individual is exposed to asbestos fibers. The research is part of ongoing research by oncologists and geneticists into the role that genetics may play in developing the rare form of cancer and creating personalized treatment plans for patients in order to prolong their rates of survival.

According to the study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, individuals who inherit a pair of mutated so-called “BLM” genes are more likely to develop mesothelioma cancer. People with the BLM gene are often affected by Bloom Syndrome, which exhibits such characteristics as a short stature, rash over the nose and cheeks, and an immune deficiency. Approximately one in every 900 individuals born with Bloom Syndrome only have one of the mutated BLM genes, which means that they produce only half of the normal amount of BLM protein and thereby increasing their risk of developing various forms of cancer.

The research in this study followed a previous discovery by the team’s lead researcher which showed that mutations to the BAP1 gene could lead to an increased susceptibility to developing cancer. Furthering the research into the BLM mutation, the National Institutes of Health has awarded the research team a grant in order to study a population in Nevada at risk of exposure to asbestos and other harmful mineral fibers.

A federal appeals court has upheld a record-setting mesothelioma cancer verdict in North Carolina, finding no fault with the manner in which the trial court oversaw the case or the legal reasoning for refusing to reduce the multimillion dollar jury verdict. With the three-judge panel of the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals upholding the $32.7 million dollar verdict in the lower federal district court in North Carolina, the award constitutes the largest ever single-plaintiff and largest ever mesothelioma cancer lawsuit verdict in the state’s history.

According to the mesothelioma cancer lawsuit, originally filed in U.S. District Court for the District of North Carolina, the plaintiff’s husband worked at the Firestone Tire Plant in Wilson, North Carolina, from 1975 until 1995. The plaintiff alleged that during his employment at the Firestone tire plant, her husband was exposed to asbestos fibers in insulation pipes in the curing room of the plant, where he would change tires in the tire mold presses. The curing room of the tire plant contained 120 steam operated tire presses, connected to multiple steam pipes which the plaintiff asserted were insulated with asbestos-containing materials.

While the defendant, Covil Corporation, did not manufacture or supply the tire presses, the company did admit to supplying hundreds of feet of the asbestos-containing insulation materials which covered the pipes from these machines. Upon the victim’s passing away from mesothelioma cancer, the plaintiff filed a wrongful death mesothelioma cancer lawsuit against Covil Corporation, claiming that the company’s asbestos containing pipe insulation was responsible for her husband’s mesothelioma cancer diagnosis.

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