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Multimillion-Dollar Settlement in Refinery Pipe Repairman Asbestos Case

October 10, 2017
Home Firm News Multimillion-Dollar Settlement in Refinery Pipe Repairman Asbestos Case

Weitz & Luxenberg pursued all the defendants in this case filed in Philadelphia on behalf of our client, diagnosed with peritoneal mesothelioma, who is still alive and who still has not reached his 60th birthday. The lawsuit named dozens of defendants — ranging from manufacturers to oil companies to home builders — and all but one of those defendants settled before the start of trial.

The lone defendant that did not settle claimed Pennsylvania was not the proper jurisdiction for a lawsuit against it. So Weitz & Luxenberg sued that defendant alone in a second lawsuit in a neighboring jurisdiction, New Jersey, and prepared that case for trial too. In the end, this one defendant paid the largest settlement amount of any defendant involved in the original case.

Manufacturers Must Pay When They Harm You

Weitz & Luxenberg attorney Alex Eiden comments, “Companies can run, but they can’t hide from us. We will pursue them in every jurisdiction on behalf of our clients.”

This multimillion-dollar settlement was one of the latest in a long series of successful verdicts and settlements our attorneys have won for our clients. The total stands at $17 billion today, three decades since the firm began.

Knowledge of Asbestos Hazards Helps His Case

The client is a mechanically inclined refinery pipe repairman with a wife and one adult son. He is living with peritoneal mesothelioma due to repeated exposure to asbestos from construction work, pipe repair, and personal auto repairs.

While our client acknowledges that he occasionally smoked (1981 to 2014), his smoking history had little bearing on the outcome of his case. The National Cancer Institute says smoking combined with asbestos exposure does not increase the risk of mesothelioma. The only known cause of this form of cancer is exposure to asbestos.(1)

Our client is also knowledgeable about the asbestos content of products he used over the course of his career. In the late 1980s, he received some job training regarding the hazards of asbestos. His understanding of the dangers of asbestos also stems from his experiences in doing repairs and abatements.

Key to the successful outcome of his case is that our client made a compelling witness.

Peritoneal Mesothelioma Is Caused by Asbestos

Mesothelioma is an aggressive form of cancer that affects the thin membranes lining the chest wall, lungs, and abdomen. Symptoms of the disease often do not appear for decades after exposure. When this form of cancer begins in the abdomen, it is called peritoneal mesothelioma.(2)

Asbestos is a known carcinogen. According to the National Cancer Institute, asbestos is a natural mineral that occurs in the environment as bundled fibers. These fibers have a number of commercial uses because they are sturdy and heat resistant, making them ideal for insulation or as an additive to other products.

The problem with asbestos fibers is that when they are disturbed, they tend to break off and float in the air or mix with dust, and the fibers can be inhaled. Once inhaled, asbestos fibers can become trapped in the lungs causing inflammation and scarring.

Occupational Asbestos Exposure

Some occupations carry greater risks for exposure to asbestos than others. This is especially true of mechanical and construction work.

This is because asbestos has often been used in products that workers in these professions use on a daily basis or are exposed to in their work environments. Our client has experience in both occupations.

During his teenage years, our client was exposed to asbestos while working part time pumping gas at a gas station. Further along in our client’s career, continued exposure came from occasionally performing shade-tree auto mechanic work, such as brake replacements, using parts that contained asbestos.

After graduation, he worked as a carpenter’s helper doing new home construction. In this job, he was exposed to asbestos while doing roofing work using tar paper and while using joint compound, sheetrock, spackle, and insulation — much of which contained asbestos. Repeat exposure came as he cleaned up after doing the work and breathed in the dust that had been created.

Sometimes his exposure was secondhand. For example, during construction of new homes, electrical contractors would perform rip-outs of breaker boxes in his presence, and he would breathe in dust that was created or while he cleaned up afterward.

Asbestos Exposure at Industrial Sites

Beginning in the early 1980s, our client testified he had performed work as an online leak repair technician on piping systems at oil refineries, powerhouses, chemical plants, and nuclear power plants — in approximately 60 or more industrial locations — from Pennsylvanian to New Jersey, to Delaware and Maryland.

In that timeframe, he was never warned about the hazards of asbestos. He was continually exposed to asbestos dust while working at these industrial sites, both from his own tasks and from the work of other tradesmen around him.

While doing refinery pipe repair, our client would often be required to go to the industrial site to perform work, both inside and outside. This work was performed even on piping systems and components while the equipment was on-line.

His work tasks often exposed him to asbestos packing and gasket materials on pumps, valves, boilers, turbines, and insulation. Our client testified he performed this kind of work hundreds of times without warnings of the hazards of asbestos until the mid-1980s.

Weitz & Luxenberg Can Help

“Weitz & Luxenberg will do what it takes to help our clients gain just compensation and put an end to callous business practices that result in harm to both workers and customers,” says Leonard F. Feldman.

“Hard-working people deserve to be treated fairly and be compensated for any harm they have suffered when they are not,” he adds. Mr. Feldman runs the asbestos practice in Pennsylvania for Weitz & Luxenberg. He is responsible for most settlement negotiations.

If you or a loved one suffers from mesothelioma, please reach out to Weitz & Luxenberg today. Let our experienced team of attorneys fight for you.

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