Mesothelioma Has a Voice
With 2000 to 3000 cases of mesothelioma are diagnosed every year, it's easy to lose sight of the individuals that suffer from this aggressive cancer. Weitz & Luxenberg provide these stories to show you the people who come to us for help. They each have a story, a face, a name. The facts in these stories are taken from clients' actual cases, but all names have been changed. The following is taken from one woman's deposition ten years ago.
This is Linda's story. All facts are accurate. The only thing that has been changed is her name. Diagnosed with mesothelioma in 1998, Linda battled cancer, and the companies that caused it, for over ten years. She passed away in 2009 at the age of 67. She is survived by her parents, siblings, ex-husband and children. Her net settlement came to almost 2 million dollars, which was more than enough to cover the medical costs which most mesothelioma patients struggle to afford.
I am too young to be telling you this story. I should be planning my daughter's wedding, not lying on a sickbed in my parents' home, just hoping I'll be able to attend. I should be able to pay for a wedding. But I can't even pay for the treatments that are keeping me alive. Last year, I was diagnosed with Mesothelioma, a rare and deadly cancer that only affects people who have been exposed to asbestos. I am telling you this story because if yours is anything like it, I want you to do what I did: get help and fight back. You deserve compensation and justice against the people who made you sick, not a legacy of debt.
The dust we didn't know was poison
My name is Linda D'Amore. I was born at Bushwick Hospital in 1945, the oldest of three kids. All four of my grandparents came to New York from Italy, and only one had the luxury of finishing eighth grade. Hard work has been the story of our lives. My mother was a homemaker, and my father was a welder. He worked in different places, but mostly he worked on the ships at the Brooklyn Navy Yard. They liked to use him for jobs in tight spaces, because he was a small guy, and he could do jobs where bigger guys would just get stuck.
Anyway, he would come home just covered in dust. My mother would make him take off his shoes before he came into the house, but she couldn't ask him to take his clothes off, too. So he'd come in all covered in dust and soot, and it was my job, once I was old enough, to take his work clothes to the Laundromat. I'd shake them out as best I could, wash them, and hang them up to dry in the back yard. I did this every couple days, from the time I was about eleven to right after high school, when I got married.
They wrote my life off as a cost of doing business
That dust he came home covered in, we knew it was asbestos. What else would you use to insulate pipes? To insulate anything, for that matter? What we didn't know was what asbestos could do to a person. It was like cigarettes, I guess—everybody was exposed to it, and nobody knew how bad it was. Except the companies that made it, of course, and why would they want to advertise that? They had known for years that asbestos caused cancer, and decided they would rather that they would rather lose lives (not their own, of course!) than money.
Once my mother had my younger brothers, she needed more help around the house, so of course I'd help with supper, dishes, laundry. They never would have let me touch asbestos dust with my bare hands if they'd known, but you can only make choices based on what you know. All the guys at the yard were exposed to that stuff—some more than others, but a little bit of asbestos goes a long way. And not everybody who was exposed to it got sick.
My father, the one who was in those tiny spaces, breathing in asbestos dust, he was fine. He and my mother are out in Long Island, spending their retirement happily. At least, they were until I got my diagnosis. I can't tell you how angry my father was, how upset my mother's been. They worked and saved, and moved out to the suburbs to retire. Now they are helping me pay for treatments I can't afford on disability.
The kids keep telling me I can fight this, that I should try this or that experimental drug, and I don't have the heart to tell them that for every miracle story they read on the internet about a man who beat mesothelioma, there are a lot of obituaries for the ones who don't. Their primary concern is saving me. Mine is saving them from a lifetime of debt.
The rare, aggressive cancer that only asbestos causes
Mesothelioma is the cancer of the lining of your lungs, not cancer of the lungs. It can travel to other places in your body, because that's what cancer likes to do. Actually, it's not cancer of the lining of just your lungs—it's the lining of your lungs, heart and abdomen. I was diagnosed with pleural mesothelioma, which is cancer of the lining (the “mesothelial” lining) of the lungs.
Most of the cases of mesothelioma are people who either worked with asbestos or were exposed to it in other ways, like me. My father was so upset when I told him about the cancer. He felt very guilty. But all he did was go to work every day, like he was supposed to, and all I did was help my mother with the laundry, like I was supposed to! The only people who did not do what they were supposed to were the people who knew that it could cause cancer, and said nothing.
I refuse to go into debt for cancer that should never have happened
The reason I went to Weitz & Luxenberg wasn't that I just wanted some money. I didn't want to leave my children, parents and brothers paying off the debt for my medical bills. What kind of legacy is that? My parents, and their parents before them, worked hard so that they never left their children in debt. My father keeps talking about selling the house in Long Island to pay off some of the debt, but where will they live after that? A state-run nursing home? I can't stand the idea, but this is all my father talks about, helping me any way he can. But this debt is not mine or my family's to pay.
My husband and I divorced about twenty years back, and he has children from his new marriage. Our kids are grown, and I know he won't be there for them like I was. Nobody can fill a mother's shoes.
For years, my husband worked construction, and I only started working after the divorce. I don't have anything to give them, and he doesn't, either. I came to Weitz & Luxenberg so I could die without worrying, constantly, if my family will be okay when I'm gone.
If you were robbed, wouldn't you file a police report?
Anyway, that is my story. I know a lot of other people who worked at the Brooklyn Navy Yard have had similar things happen—the man who worked there, or his wife, or children. If you worked at a shipyard, or in construction, or as a mechanic, or if your husband did, you should check out your legal options. You deserve compensation for what you have been robbed of, whether it is your health, a loved one, your ability to work, or your life. The company responsible for your asbestos-related tragedy can't give back what they took, but they can pay for it.
The earlier you seek help, The sooner you get help
Just as early detection is important in treating mesothelioma, contacting an experienced law firm soon after your (or your husband's, brother's, father's, mother's, etc.) mesothelioma diagnosis is important, too. Medical bills are often more than most people can afford. Cancer is enough of a burden without having to worry about bills. Like the doctor, a lawyer is best able to help when they are contacted early on. It costs no money to seek our legal advice, and Weitz & Luxenberg are experienced and committed, with a history of successful verdicts for the victims of mesothelioma. You deserve compensation for your losses. Contact us if you are interested in pursuing your legal options.