A company recently agreed to pay up to $140 million to settle a personal injury lawsuit stemming from its use of attic-insulating product that contained asbestos. The company will pay $30 million cash into a trust fund, an additional $30 million cash after three years, and make up to 10 additional annual payments of $8 million if certain conditions are met to resolve the asbestos personal injury claims.
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Personal injury litigation related to asbestos is expected to reach $140-200 Billion in coming years, according to comments before an EPA panel. Preventable diseases related to asbestos have climbed in recent years with staggering numbers. However, the EPA is considering lowering its standards for what types and amounts of asbestos and asbestos containing products are acceptable. In response, doctors, scientists, and public health advocates are lobbying to keep the current standards. Opposition comes from corporations that still use or market asbestos containing products. Experts have suggested that defendant corporations have gone to great lengths to reshape the literature on asbestos in an effort to minimize their liability for personal injuries inflicted by their products.
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The historic Fen-Phen settlement is now valued at $7.5 billion according to the plaintiffs’ attorneys managing the settlement payout. Fen-Phen was a popular diet drug and is the most notable of any prescription drug liability and injury suit. Fen-Phen is actually a combination of two drugs, fenfluramine (Pondimin) and Phentermine. Phentermine is still available today and is sold under several different brand names.
The Fen-Phen class action is unique because it offered a three-tiered system of initial opt-outs, intermediate opt-outs, and preserved a back-end option for injured plaintiffs to sue if they develop heart valve disease by as late as 2015, among other new ideas. This new system was designed to avoid the pitfalls seen in previous asbestos and GM Truck class action suits.
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A new group of mesothelioma victims are claiming that second hand exposure to asbestos caused their illness. Lawsuits have arisen as victims and their families have begun to realize that asbestos at a workplace can be transferred into the home. A man has claimed that his wife died of mesothelioma because she regularly washed his work clothes which were carrying asbestos. The man was awarded $3 million. Other courts have produced mixed results as this new category of personal injury lawsuits is formed.
A crew of six New York prison inmates and two corrections officers were exposed to asbestos, a carcinogen, during a construction job requiring them to tear up floor tiles. After the crew and officers had been exposed to the asbestos for over a year, the construction site’s environmental engineer warned of the danger. The tiles were tested and found to contain four times the amount of allowable asbestos at a construction site without requiring special removal teams. The officers are taking the city to court and the inmates are also considering suing for damages. Mesothelioma, a rare form of cancer, is almost always tied to asbestos exposure and occurs in the membrane lining of the lungs or abdomen. The symptoms of Mesothelioma do not typically appear until decades after the initial exposure.
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An Illinois man and his wife settled an asbestos mesothelioma case for $3.8 million dollars. The personal injury lawsuit was filed against several defendants, including an asbestos manufacturer. The man had exposed to the asbestos in 1964, when he worked at a foundry for Caterpillar, and from 1968 to 1994, when the man worked as a teacher in a Bloomington, Illinois high school. In 2006, the man was diagnosed with mesothelioma, a condition that is associated with exposure to asbestos.
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An Illinois councilman admitted last Friday to asbestos removal violations and failure to notify the Illinois EPA. The councilman knew that a building contained asbestos and asbestos covered pipes and decided not to take the proper precautions to prevent an environmental contamination. The councilman told contractors that there was asbestos in the building but that it was not the “dangerous kind.” Instead of providing respirators, as required, the councilman only provided paper masks for the job. In addition, because the workers did not believe that the asbestos was harmful, they simply threw the asbestos covered pipes out the window during the renovation project, releasing harmful asbestos into the air. The councilman now faces an additional 15 months in prison for these violations. Currently, the councilman is serving a 21-month prison sentence for election fraud.
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