Articles Posted in Toxic Torts

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.”

An Illinois woman has filed a lawsuit against a refining plant, claiming that chemical spills of benzene by their plant caused her to develop cancer. The personal injury lawsuit alleges that the woman, who lived nearby the chemical plant for many years, got sick from the release of benzene as well as other chemicals released by the chemical plant regularly over the time that she lived at that house. According to The Telegraph, the lawsuit filed by the woman goes into further detail, describing how the leaked chemicals affected her directly, stating that the chemicals were leaked into the groundwater (through leaking pipes/storage tanks, product transfer, equipment problems and leaching of compounds from soil and sediment that was contaminated). The groundwater then penetrated into the woman’s home through seepage and cracks (her basement has an open drain and cinder block walls), which led to the air in her home being highly contaminated with the chemical residue.

Recently, the woman’s home was purchased from her and demolished, along with several others, after the chemical plant discovered that there had been chemical leakage in the surrounding area and that the level of chemicals was directly affecting several nearby homes. The chemical corporation intends to build a soil vapor extraction system in order to address the chemical leakage and to cleanup the area. According to the refinery corporation, they will continue to work closing with the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency to make sure to address the dangerous and hazardous issue.

In addition to the woman who filed suit against the corporation, the village that she lives in has also filed a lawsuit against the corporation claiming that any amount of benzene level in the air is dangerous and hazardous to the people that live in the village. According to the village’s lawsuit, the area nearby the chemical plant is 2,600 times over the current legal limit of the toxic and dangerous chemical.

Recently a Hepatitis A outbreak has been linked to contaminated frozen berries sold in grocery stores. The frozen berry mix was identified as a berry and pomegranate mix that was sold at a couple different retail stores including Costco. The outbreak affected people in 7 different states in total and at the time of the story had made 79 people sick by exposing them to Hepatitis A. Hepatitis A is a disease that causes a very serious and even fatal form of liver disease. When it is found in food it is likely caused by the food preparer handling the food with dirty hands.

When the outbreak initially occurred, health officials were worried that the disease would be spread to a number of children, since frozen berries are used in a bunch of treats that are common for children, including smoothies and ice popsicles.

Surprisingly, once more people became infected it became clear that children were actually not the ones likely to be infected during this particular outbreak. Of the 79 reported cases, only one case involved a young child. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) credits this surprising statistic to childhood vaccinations. Routine childhood vaccinations currently (since 2006) always offer protection against Hepatitis A. The CDC’s thought was further supported by the fact that the only child that was infected by this outbreak was a young boy who had not had routine vaccinations.

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.

Although manufacturers likely don’t intend to produce a product that poses a threat to small children, MSNBC reports that cases of detergent poisoning among children under age 2 are on the rise after the advent of single-wash packets of laundry detergent that toddlers mistake for candy.

Because these new single-use packages are colorful and tempting to children, they pose a very serious hazard. Young children are often curious and explore new objects with their mouths; the single-wash packets are designed to melt quickly in the washing machine, and because the outer-casing holding the detergent dissolves easily, it will disperse in saliva, delivering the concentrated laundry detergent directly into the child’s mouth.

According to the American Association of Poison Control Centers (AAPCC), the statistics for these types of accidents are alarming: in the United States alone, nearly 2,200 children age 5 and under either swallowed or got the detergent from laundry packets into their eyes between Jan. 1 and July 31 of this year.

Illnesses from food poisoning can be alarming, but perhaps even more terrifying are cases in which you don’t even have to eat the food to be sickened by it; in those types of situations, identifying the contaminated product and holding the negligent company can prove to be even more difficult.

Fortunately, however, a number of cases of a recent potentially deadly outbreak have been linked back to a particular source: dog food.

According to a recent article on MSNBC, Diamond Pet Foods, a U.S.-based commercial pet food manufacturer, has expanded a recall of its dry dog food, taking precautionary steps after several of its brands were linked to an outbreak of a rare strain of salmonella poisoning that infected at least 14 people in nine states. The common link between all of the victims were that they had dogs or dog foods prior to their illness.

In March of this year, our Chicago personal injury lawyers and the entire country were disgusted by the prospect of “pink slime,” a meat product consisting of bits of meat and muscle salvaged from slaughterhouse floors, that is treated with ammonium-hydroxide, a chemical generally used for window-cleaning and furniture-making.

Illinois product liability law requires that when corporations put a product on the market, they are responsible for ensuring that the product is safe for consumer use. This is especially true for food manufacturers whose merchandise has to be thoroughly inspected before it is allowed to be distributed to the public. When dangerous or contaminated foods harm consumers, the corporations may be liable for the injuries caused and may be legally responsible for damages caused by those injuries. This may give rise to an Illinois personal injury lawsuit. Nevertheless, using small amounts of ammonia to make food is more common than originally understood.

Our Chicago personal injury lawyers are concerned for the well being of consumers who have been unwittingly consuming the chemical; exposure to high levels of ammonia can cause irritation and serious burns on the skin, mouth, throat, lungs, and eyes, and in some cases may lead to death. Though eating a single portion of the foods made with ammonia won’t in and of itself lead to poisoning, if an individual consumes a high number of affected foods, serious health effects could potentially arise.

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.

Executives from Staples, Inc. are probably wishing there was an ‘Easy Button’ to fix this latest conundrum.

Though it’s generally known for retailing office supplies, this week Staples, Inc. came under fire from U.S. health regulators for violating certain distribution practices related to food products stored in a company facility; food that was being provided for employees was kept in unsanitary conditions and was infected with disease. The reprimand was issued following an FDA inspection to one of Staples’ largest facilities, late last year.

Staples, Inc. is an office supply chain conglomerate, and has more than 2000 stores worldwide, spanning 26 countries. It is the largest U.S. office supply retailer, and primarily does business selling provisions, office machines, promotional products, furniture and technology both in stores and online. In 2010 alone, Staples reported revenue of $24 billion.

You certainly wouldn’t want to feed it to your kids. At least, not on purpose.

According to an article published last week by the Associated Press, school districts around the country are serving to school children hamburgers that contain as much as 15 percent of a processed product that has come to be known as “pink slime.”

What is “pink slime?” As per the Associated Press‘ recent report, it’s a product that consists of bits of meat and muscle salvaged from slaughterhouse floors, and that is treated with a pink chemical to kill any dangerous pathogens. Moreover, according to an earlier report by MSNBC, the pink goo is widely used in the food industry as an anti-microbial agent in meats and as a leavener in bread and cake products. Despite the fact that the U.S. Agriculture Department classifies it as “generally recognized as safe,” before it is served to children, it is treated with ammonium-hydroxide, a chemical generally used for window-cleaning and furniture-making.

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