Articles Posted in Asbestos and Mesothelioma

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A story about a 23 year old UK woman battling malignant mesothelioma recently made international news. Danielle Smalley was diagnosed with a type of mesothelioma that comes from ingesting asbestos, the now-known carcinogen that leads to the disease. Though Ms. Smalley and her family are unsure where she could’ve eaten asbestos, it is believed that the disease typically takes 20 years to show symptoms, meaning she was just a toddler when the incident or incidents happened. She says they have ruled out her elementary school as a possibility, but that it could’ve happened at a friend’s house or anywhere else. Danielle is only one of 3 under 25 years old that has been diagnosed with the disease in the last decade. Danielle is scheduled to have tumors surgically removed, an operation that also involves receiving ‘hot chemo.’ Hot chemotherapy is the bathing of organs in chemotherapeutic medicine to kill cancerous tumors. Treatment will leave Danielle infertile at just 23 years old.

What is Malignant Mesothelioma?

According to the American Cancer Society, mesothelioma originates in the cells of the abdomen, chest, the area around the heart (rare), or the area surrounding the testicles (very rare). Organs and the aforementioned areas of the body are covered by cells that join together to form a lining referred to as mesothelium. Cells that turn cancerous in this lining are called mesothelioma (specifically malignant mesothelioma).

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A study conducted in Italy found several mesothelioma patients had only been exposed to asbestos during the manufacturing of dental prostheses, leading researchers to conclude that dental technicians are at an increased risk of mesothelioma.  The study included 5,000 diagnosed mesothelioma patients and took place over 14 years (from 2000-2014). The only exposure 4 of the study participants had to asbestos was as employees in a dental lab, tasked with crafting dental prostheses. In the 1960 & 1970s, asbestos was used to line dental casting rings, a container that held a dental mold for a restoration (also know as a dental prosthesis). During this process, the dental mold is heated, transferring heat to the liner, which leeched asbestos particles into the air. Breathing in of asbestos, a known carcinogen, is the primary cause of mesothelioma, a malignant cancer that typically does not show symptoms until 20 or more years after exposure to the carcinogen.

Asbestos & Mesothelioma in the News

Asbestos-related class action lawsuits have been making headlines recently, as the House of Representatives voted in favor of a bill that would draw out asbestos claims and severely limit a victim’s ability to not only recover damages, but to join the class action in the first place. The bill, H.R. 985 or the Fairness in Class Action Litigation and Furthering Asbestos Claim Transparency Act of 2017 (more commonly known as FACT), aims to create very narrow classes that require all plaintiffs to have the exact same injury. Injuries from exposure to asbestos can range from malignant mesothelioma and lung cancers to other lung-related disorders. The odds of each person who has been impacted from asbestos exposure to have the same symptoms and diagnoses are rare, proving that the goal of this provision is to eliminate victims and prevent them from seeking action against corporations who manufactured or used asbestos materials. The bill also seeks to limit the ability of plaintiffs to receive compensation from multiple companies or asbestos trusts. It would require full disclosure of the funds each plaintiff has received and this information would be available on court dockets, a move which Joanne Doroshow, plaintiff’s attorney and executive director of the Center for Justice & Democracy at New York Law School, argues “would force a lot of very private information about asbestos victims and family on to the public court docket, which is basically a public website.”

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An Illinois asbestos lawsuit is on its way to federal court after the Defendant was granted its request to move the lawsuit last week reports the Madison-St. Clair Record. The plaintiff, as administrator of the deceased’s estate, filed the lawsuit against CBS Corp., the successor in merger to the corporation formerly known as Westinghouse Electric Corp., and 30 other defendants. The plaintiff claims that the decedent was injured while he was working as a United States Navy machinist on several ships between 1958 and 1980 that contained asbestos-laden equipment. The plaintiff alleges that the defendant corporations failed to exercise care and caution for the decedent’s safety by knowingly including asbestos in their products when they knew or should have known about the dangers of exposure to deadly asbestos. The decedent developed lung cancer and died in June 2012 as a result of his prolonged exposure to asbestos.

The lawsuit seeks more than $50,000 in damages and includes counts for negligence, willful and wanton conduct, conspiracy, negligent spoliation of evidence and strict liability. The defendants deny that they caused or contributed to the decedent’s alleged exposure to asbestos and have moved to dismiss the lawsuit. The decedent had a rare form of cancer, called mesothelioma that is associated with exposure to asbestos. Once a victim is diagnosed, the cancer often progresses throughout the body very rapidly and sadly claims many lives. The trick with mesothelioma is that it often appears decades after the first exposure to asbestos, which creates a problem for many of its victims in terms of their legal rights. Our attorneysknow that it is difficult and can be intimidating to sue large corporations for their negligence. That is why victims count on experienced lawyers who are not afraid to stand up for the rights of victims and their families, even against large corporations with huge legal teams. A diagnosis of mesothelioma is devastating to any family, as it unfortunately is often a death sentence for the sick. We understand that behind each and every diagnosis is a scared family and that every diagnosis involves a different and unique chance to fight for justice. We understand that the emotional toll is just as taxing as the financial toll that the devastating diagnosis of mesothelioma brings. If you or a loved one has been exposed to asbestos or diagnosed with mesothelioma, consider contacting our offices for a free consultation to discuss your options under the law.

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Our Chicago personal injury lawyers were fascinated to read a recent article in the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin, which stated that the Illinois Supreme Court has ruled that a direct relationship does not need to exist between a company and a person exposed to secondhand asbestos in order for that company to be considered responsible for injuries resulting from exposure.

Chicago asbestos exposure cases are a relatively recent form of workplace injury cases and Illinois personal injury lawsuits. Before the health risks became apparent, asbestos was originally mined to use in construction of buildings. As a building material, it was sound-absorbent, and resistant to heat, fire, and electrical and chemical damage. As a result, manufacturers and builders regularly used it in the 19th century. Many workers were exposed both in the mines and in constructing buildings using asbestos.

Inhalation of asbestos fibers can lead to serious illnesses, such as lung cancer, asbestosis, and mesothelioma. The greater the exposure to asbestos, the higher the risk of associated health problems. When workers are exposed to asbestos in their work environment, the corporations for which they work may be liable for the injuries they suffer as a result of the asbestos exposure.

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Our Chicago personal injury attorneys were concerned to hear that a recent advisory published by Federal health officials is advocating worker safety after it was discovered that a number of workers may have been exposed to erionite, a cancer-causing mineral similar to asbestos, while on the job.

Erionite is a naturally-occurring mineral that is found in volcanic ash that has been altered by weather and ground water. Similarly to asbestos, it does not pose a risk until moved, which causes the microscopic fibers to waft into the air.

According to a recent report by MSNBC, erionite is not currently regulated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). As per MSNBC‘s report, authorities on behalf of the EPA have known for a long time that erionite is widespread in a number of states, but have not expended resources to investigate potential risks, because of an apparent belief that there was little chance of human exposure to the mineral. Nevertheless, erionite particles pose similar risks to asbestos exposure, and research suggests that erionite is potentially more dangerous than asbestos.

In fact, the best evidence of the risks of exposure to erionite is a number of devastating cases that were first reported in Turkey in the 1970s. In villages abundant with erionite, some 40-50 percent of all deaths were caused by mesothelioma, as a result of erionite exposure. MSNBC reports that animal studies have shown erionite to be 100 to 800 times more apt to cause cancer than asbestos and, according to a scientific paper, “almost certainly the most toxic naturally occurring fibrous mineral known.”

Mesothelioma, in addition to being a disease caused by exposure to erionite, is a rare form of cancer that forms in the protective lining of the body’s organs. It most commonly manifests in the outer lining of the lungs and internal chest wall, but may occur on any of the body’s organs covered by the protective lining.

Symptoms of mesothelioma generally do not present until twenty to fifty years after exposure to either asbestos or erionite. Symptoms include shortness of breath, fluid between the lung and the chest wall, chest pain, and weight loss. Despite developments in cancer treatment, once the disease has manifested, the patient’s prognosis is poor.

At this point, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health has put together a number of ideas to help prevent exposure to erionite at the workplace. Federal health and environmental agencies are holding workshops in order to educate the public, while erionite remains unregulated. Additionally, federal officials have suggested employee training for workers in potentially dangerous work areas, and implementing methods to ascertain whether erionite is present before beginning work. Further recommendations included wetting soil and rock to reduce dust; using respirators and other protective equipment; showering and changing clothes before leaving work; and ensuring work clothes and boots are left at work to prevent hazardous fibers from being brought home.

Exposure to erionite is potentially life threatening. Our Illinois personal injury attorneys know that there are special laws in place to protect employees from dangerous work environments, and urge employers to take precautions to prevent workers’ exposure to erionite.
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A district court recently approved a $43 million settlement against state officials, on behalf of 1,128 people who fell ill from asbestos exposure from a former vermiculite mine. According to the complaint, mineworkers were exposed to the asbestos during work in the mine, and have since suffered a myriad of serious ailments, including cancer and early death.

Asbestos exposure cases are a relatively recent form of Illinois workplace injury cases and Illinois personal injury lawsuits. Before the health risks became apparent, asbestos was originally mined to use in construction of buildings. As a building material, it was sound-absorbent, and resistant to heat, fire, and electrical and chemical damage. As a result, manufacturers and builders regularly used it in the 19th century. Many workers were exposed both in the mines and in constructing buildings using asbestos.

Inhalation of asbestos fibers can lead to serious illnesses, such as lung cancer, asbestosis, and mesothelioma. The greater the exposure to asbestos, the higher the risk of associated health problems. When workers are exposed to asbestos in their work environment, the corporations for which they work may be liable for the injuries they suffer as a result of the asbestos exposure.

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After a lengthy four year long legal battle, a mining company has settled hazardous product liability claims with the government for a record $1.79 billion. The hazardous waste pollution occurred across 19 states. The settlement was announced by federal agencies last week.
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Relatives of a California man who wrongfully died from mesothelioma lung cancer after exposure to asbestos has been awarded $3.4 million in wrongful death damages. The wrongful death lawsuit accused the defendant mining company of negligence, products liability design defect, and products liability failure to warn.

To read more about the mesothelioma jury award.

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Less than half of asbestos workers diagnosed with mesothelioma file claims for workers’ compensation. More interestingly, according to a recent Canadian study, is that those who do file claims do receive compensation. Canadian workers’ compensation is similar to the U.S. in that it covers medical costs for workers injured on the job.

To read more about the unreported mesothelioma cases.