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Large Financial Settlement for Navy Boiler Tender

March 1, 2011
Home Firm News Large Financial Settlement for Navy Boiler Tender

Our client fought for his country while serving in the U.S. Navy. And Weitz & Luxenberg fought for him, negotiating a large financial settlement after he was diagnosed with mesothelioma.

We have negotiated verdicts and settlements for our clients totaling $8 billion.

Mesothelioma Strikes Veteran

Married for nearly 50 years, this Hillsdale, New Jersey, resident in his 70s served honorably in the Navy as a boiler tender in the 1950s to 1960. After leaving the service, he spent most of his career as a purchasing agent, earning his college degree in the mid-1970s. By late 2008, he found himself out of work because his company downsized.

While our client was still looking for work a year later, he was diagnosed with mesothelioma, a lethal form of cancer. In spite of undergoing surgery and chemotherapy sessions, he died within a few years.

“Weitz & Luxenberg attorneys believe in holding the companies involved in this case accountable for our client’s suffering,” states Leonard F. Feldman, in charge of our asbestos practice for New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

He continues, “For people who develop mesothelioma, there is no positive outcome. A large financial settlement makes a difference to the family members left behind, and, hopefully, in how these companies do business.”

Navy Ships’ Asbestos Damages Totaled More Than Half of Settlement

This case involved roughly 10 different companies that manufactured products containing asbestos such as boilers, pumps, and pipe coverings. Of the settlement compensation our client was awarded, more than half came from five of those companies whose products were used in Navy ships.

Settlement money was also received from manufacturers of other products that contained asbestos, including tile, brake pads and linings, and gaskets.

Our client was a boiler tender in the Navy. His exposure to asbestos — the only known cause of mesothelioma — began as early as the 1950s and continued through the 70s. Much of this exposure came through his work in other occupations at risk for exposure to asbestos, as well.

Occupations with High Risk of Exposure

While still just a teenager, our client learned to do brake jobs by hanging around a local garage. Later he worked as a shade tree mechanic. This work involved scuffing brakes, during which he would breathe in dust. The products he used contained asbestos.

Yet it was during his Navy service where he received the greatest exposure to products containing asbestos. In boiler tender school at a naval shipyard, he was taught to use asbestos to insulate boilers. After boiler tender school, he began serving on destroyers. During his tour of duty, he was stationed at other naval shipyards.

Exposure to asbestos during his Navy years came from boilers, packing from valves and pumps, gaskets, pipecovering, and firebrick. Records indicated that asbestos exposure came from pumps and valves aboard the destroyers he served on.

In the 1970s, our client was again exposed to asbestos while doing home repair work: putting down new vinyl asbestos floor tile and sanding it on the edges. During this repair work, he again breathed in dust laced with asbestos fibers.

What Is Asbestos?

Asbestos is a group of natural minerals consisting of bundles of strong fibers used in commercial and industrial applications. Asbestos can be added to products to strengthen them or be used as insulation.

Often, dust from working with products containing asbestos gets into the air and is inhaled. This dust contains tiny asbestos fibers that may become trapped in your lungs and remain there for long periods of time. Once you have been exposed, it can be decades before any symptoms of mesothelioma develop.(1)

Mesothelioma Is Cancer

Mesothelioma, an aggressive form of cancer, affects the thin layer of tissues covering many of your internal organs, especially the lungs, chest wall, and abdomen. Even though there are treatments for mesothelioma, the disease is fatal.

The type of mesothelioma you have depends on which tissues of the body are affected. For example, mesothelioma that affects the tissues surrounding the lungs is called pleural mesothelioma, while mesothelioma affecting the abdomen is called peritoneal.

Asbestos Not Banned Completely

The danger of asbestos exposure became so apparent that in 1989 the Environmental Protection Agency issued a ban on all new uses of asbestos in the United States. However, use of asbestos in items developed prior to 1989 is still allowed.(2)

Mesothelioma and Smoking

Our client was a smoker who had smoked from his teens until the late 1990s. Yet his overall tobacco consumption was less than a pack per day. The National Cancer Institute says smoking combined with asbestos does not necessarily increase your risk of contracting mesothelioma.(3)

Attorney Feldman explains, “It is especially gratifying to reach this settlement. It sends a strong message to companies that value profits more than lives. They bear responsibility even in cases where employees smoke.”

If you or a family member have been diagnosed with mesothelioma, contact Weitz & Luxenberg. Let our team of dedicated attorneys help you get the justice you deserve.

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