Our attorneys won a multimillion-dollar lawsuit for a heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) maintenance man who selected us to represent him in his lawsuit. Our client spent more than 35 years working on maintaining the HVAC system for his employer, a utility company.
We were able to establish that he was employed in an unsafe environment. Working with hazardous equipment led to his exposure to asbestos and contracting mesothelioma cancer. So we fought to hold those who caused him harm responsible for their inactions.
Attorney Alex Eiden made that point during the lawsuit, “Companies have a responsibility to provide a safe environment for their workers. This responsibility is more important than making a profit or reducing expenses, and certainly not at the expenses of their workers’ health.”
The Pennsylvania man worked for different companies during his lifetime so far, but spent most of his career with one large company. The lawsuit was against that company, and several manufacturers of equipment used there, which was shown to be hazardous.
The heating and cooling systems our client serviced were insulated with asbestos and the machinery he maintained was made with asbestos. That exposure caused his life threatening illness.
Varied Exposures to Asbestos
Our client’s exposure began at an early age, at both work and at home. His father worked as an electrician and regularly came home covered with asbestos dust from his job.
This led to secondary exposure, since our client helped to wash his father’s clothes. That exposure, which was technically nonoccupational, contributed to the settlement.
Early in his career, our client worked on air conditioning (A/C) units, their electrical components, and motors. The insulation on these units contained asbestos and the components were made with asbestos. As these parts wore down, they created dust which contained asbestos fibers. Nothing was done to warn people working on these units about the dangers or to protect the workers from the risks.
Almost a Lifetime with One Employer
Beginning in the 1970s, our client began his employment with the large company he was to work for over more than 30 years. Not only did the equipment he worked on contain asbestos, but it was insulated with asbestos.
Our client was exposed to asbestos in the pipe insulation and ceiling tiles of the building. The boilers, electrical parts, and their components all contained asbestos.
His entire work environment was contaminated with asbestos dust. Our client was exposed not only by direct contact with the machinery, but also just by breathing the air in the plant.
He also worked on cooling towers on an annual basis, scraping mineral deposits off asbestos-containing baffles. This went on without any special protection equipment or even any warnings.
The company did not warn its employees of the dangers of asbestos and did nothing to reduce the risk or to protect the workers. The manufacturers of the equipment in use also did nothing to warn people servicing the equipment.
In addition to his primary employer, a dozen other defendants were identified in this lawsuit. These defendant included earlier employers and manufacturers of the equipment which our client worked on. All were held to have liability and were assessed financial damages.
Consequences of Exposure
Because of his cancer, our client can no longer work. He had to undergo chemotherapy in hopes of dealing with the disease.
Not only is his life painful, but he is the source of support for two adult children with severe disabilities. Mesothelioma has made it difficult for him to continue caring for them.
As Mr. Eiden noted, “Mesothelioma effects not only the patient, but the whole family. Our client is responsible for providing for two disabled dependents. It’s hard to care for someone else when you yourself are sick and unable to work. By securing this significant financial settlement, our client will be able to care for himself and for his children.”
The Dangers of Asbestos
Asbestos is a fibrous mineral which can insulate from heat, reduce heat from friction, and strengthen a wide variety of products. Until the 1980s, asbestos was widely used. Then, as the dangers of exposure to asbestos became more evident, legislation restricted asbestos in both the workplace and the home.
When asbestos or materials containing asbestos are cut, sanded, or abraded, it creates dust made of asbestos fibers. If this dust is inhaled, the fibers invade the body and are trapped in the lungs or other parts.
These fibers can cause mesothelioma cancer. The only known cause of mesothelioma is exposure to asbestos. It can take 30-40 years for the body to develop mesothelioma after exposure.
Mesothelioma leaves a person with lack of breath, pain, and low energy. It becomes difficult to work or to live a normal life. Although the progression of mesothelioma can be slowed by surgery, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy, there is no cure.
Too often employers or manufacturers ignore the consequences to people for unsafe work environments or hazardous products. Workers need to be protected, and if they have been harmed, they deserve to be compensated for the damage done to them. A serious illness or injury is devastating to a family.
An experienced attorney can provide guidance on your options and what remedies are available to you or to a loved one. The attorneys at Weitz & Luxenberg have won more than $8.5 billion in asbestos verdicts and settlements for our clients.