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Veteran Millwright Gets Multimillions for Asbestos Exposure

June 30, 2021
Home Firm News Veteran Millwright Gets Multimillions for Asbestos Exposure

The attorneys at Weitz & Luxenberg were able to secure a multimillion dollar settlement for the wife and family of a lifetime millwright and Navy veteran. “Our client died before reaching 70 years old, and before his lawsuit could go to trial, but our Weitz & Luxenberg team was able to get justice for his family,” says attorney Alex Eiden.

The W&L team, headed by Mr. Eiden, was able to prove that exposure throughout our client’s career — to machinery and job environments containing asbestos — led to his contracting mesothelioma.

“Our client developed mesothelioma after a lifetime of working with unsafe products and under unsafe conditions,” explains lead attorney Mr. Eiden. “He was sick for over a year and was in great pain when he died. He left behind three children and a loving wife. He and his wife had been together since the mid-1950s. We were very glad to be able to help him make sure his family would be cared for after he was gone.”

Navy Vet and Millwright

After leaving the Navy, where he was a boiler technician, our client worked for several companies in Pennsylvania. These included a glass container company and a steel manufacturer. He worked on an electric furnace for one corporation and he maintained heavy equipment for other companies.

The job of a millwright is to install, maintain, dismantle, repair, and reassemble machinery at factories, power plants, and construction sites. Often, this equipment contains asbestos to reduce friction and heating problems. In addition to the equipment itself, the work sites themselves had been built with asbestos to prevent fires.

Danger of Asbestos

Asbestos is a mineral long known for its fire-retardant capabilities. It has been used to protect parts subject to heat and friction. However, when asbestos breaks down due to wear — or being cut or abraded — it releases particles.

When these particles are inhaled, they permanently lodge in your body. Over time, these particles may cause various cancers including lung cancer and mesothelioma. Mesothelioma is always fatal. It can take decades to develop after exposure.

While using asbestos in the manufacture of equipment and replacement parts began to be phased out in the 1960s, much of this machinery is still in service today. Buildings and factories still have the asbestos fire protection flooring, ceiling tiles, and paneling they were built with. Because they have not been replaced — despite the obvious health risks — workers are at risk of contamination.

At Risk from Asbestos on the Job

Our client was exposed to asbestos during his time in the service, at the several job sites where he was employed, and by equipment and parts he worked with on automobiles and at his home.

“Even after the dangers of asbestos were well known, manufacturers continued to use asbestos because it was cost effective for them to do so. No warnings were given to the people who used their products. And employers offered no safety equipment or protection,” points outs Mr. Eiden.

Because this case covered a lifetime of exposure, dozens of defendants were involved. The attorneys from W&L were able to show how in each case the defendants — manufacturers, suppliers, and employers — did not take proper care to protect the health of their employees.

“The common thread in all these cases was that it was too expensive to do the right thing, so they did nothing at all for the people who used these products and worked in these spaces,” declares Mr. Eiden.

Our client’s career included jobs having the highest risk factors for exposure to asbestos. His service in the Navy was as a boiler technician. Both before and after his time in the service, he worked for automotive repair companies as a mechanic. He would repair brakes, clutches, and car engines.

All these parts were manufactured with asbestos to reduce wear. Our client would be exposed to asbestos laden dust when servicing and replacing these parts. This exposure also included the work he did on his own cars.

Job Sites Provides Asbestos Exposure

Our client’s work as a millwright, operating and servicing cranes and heavy machinery, also exposed him to asbestos from the machines he repaired. The Agency for Toxic and Disease Registry, lists 34 occupations with a risk of exposure to asbestos.

These occupations included three roles our client found himself in during his lifetime: (1)

  • Auto mechanics.
  • Millwrights.
  • U.S. Navy personnel.

Our client remembered how the steel foundry mill he worked in manufactured castings used in overhead cranes. He recalled the factory taking asbestos tiles off the ceiling and just dropping them to the floor below from cranes stretching 80 feet in the air. Our client knew they didn’t use abatement procedures, but didn’t know what a critical — and lethal — factor that would prove to be for his health.

Getting the Help You Need

Because our client’s work history covered more than 40 years, and the case involved over 30 defendants, he needed strong legal representation with significant experience in asbestos litigation. “Working with our client, we were able to determine the equipment he used and the risk factor each presented. It was a complex case,” declares Mr. Eiden.

He adds, “Weitz &Luxenberg has handled many such cases, with successful outcomes for the people we represent. These are people who need help at a very dark time in their lives. We are proud to be able to help them and their families.”

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