Court Suggests $19.8 Million Fine Following Asbestos Contamination That Increased the Risk of Mesothelioma

A Franklin County magistrate recently suggested that a $19.8 million fine be imposed on Paxe Latitude (P.L.), Aloft Management (A.M.), and Paxe Latitude’s majority owner. This is after these parties failed to manage asbestos contamination during renovations, putting workers at risk of mesothelioma and rendering the Latitude Five25 apartment complex uninhabitable. For long, this apartment in Ohio has been a source of controversy. However, nothing has occurred in the past compared to what happened in December 2022.

The significant risk of mesothelioma arose after the apartment towers were evacuated in December 2022 after a problem arose with the water pipes. After the evacuation, the building’s owner, P.L., and its management company, A.M., initiated renovations. Before beginning renovations, P.L. and A.M. did not order an asbestos survey, which violated company policies and legal requirements. Failure to request an asbestos survey put the workers who were doing the renovations at significant risk of mesothelioma.

Inadequate safety measures further compounded the parties’ negligence. Workers were not provided with personal protective equipment (PPE), and no asbestos containment procedures were in place. The situation was exacerbated by the negligent way that carpet, drywall, and ceiling tiles were disposed of. Photos presented as evidence in court showed debris scattered across the floor, with no effort to reduce the spread of asbestos-contaminated materials.

The improper handling of asbestos is a serious issue, as inhaling asbestos fibers can lead to the development of mesothelioma. Mesothelioma is a form of cancer that affects the tissue surrounding the lungs, heart, or abdomen. Statistics suggest that there are about 3,000 new mesothelioma cases every year in the United States of America. That means that about one per 100,000 people are diagnosed with mesothelioma in the United States every year. According to testimonies in the case, a lack of PPE, the discarding of asbestos into open dumpsters, and the circulation of asbestos by fans were the main factors that increased the risk of mesothelioma. Despite an EPA inspector’s order to halt work and have the site decontaminated, subsequent instructions from the owner led to workers contaminating the site even further. This resulted in asbestos not only spreading throughout the site but also throughout the surrounding area.

In the end, the result of the contamination was not limited to workers being at risk of developing mesothelioma. The apartment complex became filled with asbestos, and more than 160 tenants were unable to retrieve their personal belongings, including bedding, clothing, and furniture, out of fear of asbestos exposure and potential asbestos-related illnesses. In light of these severe outcomes, a Franklin court magistrate recommended a fine of $19.8 million. This fine will be assessed against P.L. A.M. and P.L.’s majority owner, Boruch Drillman.

This case highlights the dangers of asbestos and the importance of adhering to safety regulations. Proper asbestos handling and containment are crucial to prevent mesothelioma and other asbestos-related illnesses. The magistrate’s recommendation should act as a warning to property owners and management companies.

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