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Millions Won for Maintenance Supervisor’s Asbestos Exposure

January 31, 2020
Home Firm News Millions Won for Maintenance Supervisor’s Asbestos Exposure

The attorneys at Weitz & Luxenberg recently won a multimillion-dollar settlement for a New Jersey man after his work exposed him to hazardous asbestos. He was exposed due to both the equipment he worked on and the environment he worked in. We helped him get justice.

He contracted the deadly cancer, mesothelioma, while working in maintenance and as a supervisor at a large utility. His work required his direct contact with equipment made with asbestos, especially control valves and regulators, as well as insulation.

Our client also faced secondary, indirect contact with asbestos from the work done by others. As other tradesmen worked in the plant, their work created asbestos dust. That dust caused our client to suffer from this terrible disease.

Constant Exposure to Asbestos Hazards

In his more than 40 year career, our client started as a systems technician and advanced to become a maintenance supervisor. Much of his early career was hands-on work with industrial pumps, valves, compressors and similar equipment.

He advanced to supervising crews doing the same work in an environment which exposed him to the same equipment. Most of his employment was with a large energy company.

For his whole career he was either working with the equipment or around where the equipment was being worked on. This work included disassembling and assembling these pumps, valves, blowers, heaters, and compressors.

Risks Associated with This Type of Work

Asbestos is a mineral fiber that is resistant to heat and fire. It has been used for centuries. Asbestos has many uses, including insulation for water and steam pipes. When materials containing asbestos are cut, drilled, or subject to friction, the asbestos breaks off as dust.

Much of the equipment our client worked on was made with asbestos or used asbestos for friction protection and heat reduction. The parts are subject to wear. This wear creates asbestos dust.

When inhaled, it lodges in the lungs and other parts of the body. These particles do not pass out of the body. Over time, the asbestos causes cancer.

Mesothelioma is an incurable form of cancer. The only known cause of mesothelioma is inhaling asbestos. It can take years, sometimes more than 30, for the cancer to develop.

Our client suffers from difficulty breathing, general fatigue, pain and swelling. While surgery, radiation therapy and chemotherapy can slow the progress of his disease, there is no cure.

Non-Occupational Exposure

Outside of his job, our client was also exposed to asbestos while working on home improvement projects. Twice our client replaced hot water heaters in his home.

The insulation for these heaters contained asbestos. There was no manufacturer warning nor advice on how to protect himself from asbestos contamination during installation or operation.

Our client was also exposed to asbestos when he was younger and helped his mother do the laundry.  His father was a boilerman, and came home with his overalls covered in asbestos dust.

Asbestos Legislation

In 1989, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a partial ban on some asbestos-containing products. The EPA’s April 2019 Final Rule was issued to ensure that the banned products did not return to the marketplace. (1) However, not all uses of asbestos are banned.

Products containing asbestos were still in use when our client was working at his job sites. Working on the specific equipment was not the only source of exposure. The work areas were also contaminated. Simply being in the area put him at risk.

Even after the risks of asbestos were known, equipment manufacturers did little to warn people how to implement protective procedures. Alex Eiden, the W&L attorney who led our case explains that, “If workers know about the cancer risk of asbestos, they can take precautions against exposure.”

Large Number of Defendants

The suit for our client included more than 40 defendants. They were the manufacturers of the equipment in his and his father’s work locations. All these defendants had varying degrees of liability and were required to pay damages.

One company settled their portion of the lawsuit for close to $2 million. Another settled for half a million dollars.

“No one company or organization was responsible alone for the injuries to our client, but rather they all contributed. By not being concerned about the risk, they all, to one degree or another, created an unsafe working environment that led to our client’s suffering,” points out Mr. Eiden.

“Companies who create unsafe products must be held accountable.”

Judgement for the Injured

When people have suffered harm because product manufacturers have created unsafe conditions, they need a way to protect themselves and their families financially. Mesothelioma is a painful disease and expensive to deal with.

Not only does our client have high medical expenses, but he has a loss of income as he becomes too sick to work. We help our clients recover from the financial loss the illness causes.

Our client knows that we went to battle for him against the corporations who caused his injuries. And we won him a multimillion dollar settlement.

W&L has won more than $8.5 billion in verdicts and settlements for our clients.

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