Mesothelioma Claims the Life of NFL Great: Merlin Olsen Only One of Thousands of Americans Affected Each Year by Serious Asbestos-Related Diseases
Men and women from all walks of life, even those whose jobs do not regularly mean potential exposure to asbestos, face a lifelong risk to develop serious illnesses such as mesothelioma, asbestos lung cancer or asbestosis if they inhale asbestos-contaminated dusts. Between September 2009 and March 2010, mesothelioma claimed the lives of entertainment reporter Army Archerd and former NFL great Merlin Olsen.
If you or a loved one has been impacted by a diagnosis with an asbestos-related disease, our attorneys may be able to help. Please complete the form on this page for important information about your legal rights to seek compensation from the companies responsible for your illness.
On March 11, 2010, NFL Hall of Famer Merlin Olsen lost his battle with mesothelioma, a serious cancer caused by exposure to asbestos. Mr. Olsen’s tragic diagnosis was revealed to the public in December 2009 when his college alma mater, Utah State University, hosted a ceremony at a basketball game to announce that the University’s football field would be renamed in his honor.
The legendary defensive tackle played for the Los Angeles Rams from 1962 until his retirement fifteen years later. A part of the renowned “Fearsome Foursome” that dominated the National Football League in the 1960s, he was named defensive Rookie of the Year in 1962 and made a record-setting 14 appearances in the NFL Pro Bowl. In 1977, his jersey was retired by the Rams, and he was elected into the NFL Hall of Fame in 1982.
After his retirement from the football field, Mr. Olsen transitioned into the broadcast booth as part of the ABC Monday Night Football team, and also provided commentary for a number of college bowl, NFL playoff and Super Bowl games He also gained fame as an actor, most notably for his roles in “Little House on the Prairie” and “Father Murphy,” both of which were created and produced by Olsen’s long-time friend Michael Landon.
Exposure to Asbestos Can Cause Serious Illness Many Decades Later
Mesothelioma, asbestos lung cancer and asbestosis are all caused by exposure to asbestos. When microscopic asbestos fibers become airborne and inhaled, the sharp, jagged edges on the tiny fibers cause them to remain in the lungs instead of being expelled by coughing or sneezing.
The time between exposure to asbestos and when mesothelioma symptoms develop is typically 30-40 or more years long. During this decades-long latency period, the microscopic asbestos fibers that have been trapped in the lungs cause health lung tissue to scar. When the scarring is significant, asbestos patients can develop any number of serious chronic illnesses, or in Mr. Olsen’s case, the asbestos can trigger the lungs to produce the abnormal cells that ultimately caused mesothelioma tumors to develop.
Asbestos Disease from Non-Traditional Sources
Because of the decades-long period between exposure and diagnosis, it is unclear how Mr. Olsen was exposed to the cancer-causing mineral. While biographical information has indicated he held construction-related jobs while in college, it is also possible he was exposed while working as an actor.
Even though the use of asbestos-containing products had been essentially banned in the late 1970s, many asbestos-containing materials (ACM) were used to construct sets on television and movie lots. In addition, a particularly dangerous form of asbestos known as vermiculite was often used as an ingredient in the artificial snow used in film and TV. The asbestos-laden “snow” was not only used to simulate snow-covered fields for outdoor filming, but was also used indoors to replicate falling snow.
How Weitz & Luxenberg Can Help
If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with an asbestos-related disease, we may be able to help you to seek justice for your illness and file a lawsuit on your behalf.
Please complete the form on this page for a free and confidential review of your potential asbestos lawsuit or request a free copy of our asbestos sourcebook. A Weitz & Luxenberg representative will contact you as soon as possible.