In the 1970s and 1980s a construction worker helped install underground water and sewer lines in California. This was his regular job, the way he made a living and fed his family.
The lines included pipes manufactured with asbestos. Using asbestos meant the pipes would be easier to make and cheaper to produce (increasing profit margin for the manufacturers).
It also meant that anyone who worked with them was exposed to a toxic substance that could kill them decades later. For those unfortunate victims, contracting mesothelioma was a sure death sentence.
In August of 2011, the 57-year-old worker filed a lawsuit against six companies. The man claimed they had exposed him to asbestos and he was now suffering from mesothelioma, an incurable cancer, only caused by exposure to asbestos.
In January of 2012, with the help of Weitz & Luxenberg’s California team of attorneys, he received a $7.5 million settlement.
Weitz & Luxenberg sued the companies who manufactured, sold and distributed the asbestos-cement pipe that caused their client to be exposed to this terrible poison, resulting in his illness.
Attorney Daniel Wasserberg explained, “As part of his job, our client had to cut the pipes with a power saw so they could be laid below the streets. Although not a highly dangerous task in and of itself, it was highly dangerous in terms of the cancer risk. The companies that manufactured the pipe knew for decades before our client worked with it how deadly the fibers were to human health.”
When cutting pipes, the worker used a gas-operated saw. Sawing into pipes containing asbestos meant that a large cloud of dust was being generated. That dust rose up in the air, was breathed in and settled in the lungs.
Asbestos particles that enter the body can, decades later, cause cancer in the linings that surround your heart, abdominal organs, lungs and reproductive system.
Said Weitz & Luxenberg’s Brent Zadorozny, “There was an enormous amount of dust — it was like being inside a snowstorm of asbestos particles. At the end of each day, our client was covered in a thick layer of asbestos dust from head to toe.”
Although the defendants claimed that their products were not onsite where the construction worker had been laying pipe, the Weitz & Luxenberg team was able to prove, through documentation and other proofs that the products in fact were there.
According to Benno Ashrafi, head of Weitz & Luxenberg in Los Angeles, “We dug through thousands of records in order to find the proverbial needle in a haystack. Sometimes that’s what justice takes.”
Ari Friedman, another attorney involved, explained that the case was scheduled to be there in Los Angeles, but was moved to Chico, California — 400 miles away. “This move did not succeed in negatively affecting our case. It just let us show the defendants, and everyone else, that we will go wherever it takes to help our clients get the justice they deserve,” he stated.