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W&L Wins Multimillion-Dollar Settlement for Retired Pipefitter with Mesothelioma

June 13, 2016
Home Firm News W&L Wins Multimillion-Dollar Settlement for Retired Pipefitter with Mesothelioma

In many of our cases, our clients pass away from deadly mesothelioma before we can get them the financial compensation they deserve. That’s because the cancer is so aggressive and so fast. This case was different.

In this case, W&L attorneys were able to get a multimillion-dollar settlement from a pipe manufacturer for our client while he was still alive. Although our attorneys have successfully gotten verdicts and settlements totaling $17 billion for our clients, it’s always the most gratifying when our client lives to see the results.

Years of Asbestos Exposure

Our 70-year-old client lives approximately 30 miles from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. For nearly 15 years, he worked as a laborer for a paving and excavating company.

During that time, he worked on several major projects where he installed one specific brand of concrete pipe. These were long duration projects, running from up to 18 months each.

For each of these projects, his responsibility was to lay sewer pipe and secure it. That’s how he was exposed to asbestos.

Exposure to Concrete Pipe Containing Asbestos

The process of laying the pipe involved carrying pipe to the trench and positioning it in the ground. Then the new piece of pipe had to be connected to the others with a gasket. The pipe was slid into the gasket and then secured with a coupling.

The pipe had to be cut when it reached a manhole, which happened frequently. Also, if a pipe was broken, it had to be cut in an attempt to salvage some of the pipe. This cutting of the concrete pipe created dust. As did the handling of the gaskets and couplings.

Between the mid-1960s and into the late 1970s, our client was employed on projects that involved laying thousands of feet of pipe. The construction company our client worked for used the same brand of concrete pipe on each of these projects.

Also, the same brand of gasket and the same brand of coupling. All these products contained asbestos.

The Dangers of Exposure to Asbestos

Asbestos is the name given to a group of minerals that all have bundles of fibers which can be separated into thin durable threads. These threads can be used in manufactured products.

Asbestos is used because it is naturally resistant to heat. Asbestos has been used in car parts, construction material, and insulation. It also was used to harden concrete.

The danger in using asbestos is that as the product containing asbestos wears, or is cut, the asbestos fibers get into the air and can be inhaled. Once inhaled, they get trapped in the lungs. The fibers can be trapped in the body for a long time and cause scarring and inflammation.(1)

The time between exposure and the development of physical problems can be decades.

This scaring and inflammation of the tissue lining the lungs and other parts of the body can lead to serious health problems, including mesothelioma. The only known cause of mesothelioma is exposure to asbestos.(2)

Workers Not Protected from Asbestos Dust

As W&L attorney Alex Eiden explains, “Learning that he had developed mesothelioma, our client reached out to us to get the type of representation he needed for a case like this. Our research showed that the products he was using in all of these projects did contain asbestos, and that nothing was done to protect him while he was working on these jobs. No safety warnings were issued, and no safety measures were implemented.”

Because of how these products were handled, everyone on the job site was put at risk. Not only was our client exposed to asbestos dust when he cut the pipe or handled the gaskets and couplings, but also he was exposed when any cutting was done by other people.

Protection Needed from Dangerous Asbestos-Containing Products

The U.S. federal government began regulating asbestos contained in building products in 1970. Asbestos has long been classified as a carcinogen, a substance that causes cancer.

People suffering from mesothelioma develop shortness of breath and decreased lung function. The progress of mesothelioma cancer can be slowed through treatments such as surgery and chemotherapy, but it is always fatal.

Given the size and the duration of each of our client’s pipe installations, and the amount of pipe that had to be cut, the amount of exposure to asbestos dust was very significant.

W&L Fights Against Company’s Asbestos-Containing Products

As Mr. Eiden points out, “Our client has suffered a great deal of harm because there was no warning on any of these materials, and no advice on how to minimize risk. When dealing with dangerous products, those warnings need to be present. It is important that manufacturers provide those warnings and advise people.”

He continues, “Weitz & Luxenberg attorneys work to make sure that people are protected. And, when they are not, that they are compensated. W&L stands with the worker.”

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