Asbestos Exposure Lawsuits
Exposure to asbestos can cause the debilitating and fatal diseases of asbestosis and mesothelioma. Asbestos is a substance that has been used in many products because of its fire proofing characteristics. Asbestos has been used to insulate hot pipes, heating systems, wiring, buildings, ships, and a multitude of other applications that require fire proofing. Asbestos has been used in brake linings, transmissions, shingles, joint compounds and wall board compounds.
Thousands of workers have been exposed in our nation’s shipyards and industrial manufacturing facilities. Steamfitters and electricians have been especially hard hit by asbestos exposure. Workers in the construction and textile industries have also suffered from asbestos exposure. Workers in the automotive industry and individuals working on their own cars servicing asbestos brake linings and clutches have developed asbestosis and mesothelioma. These asbestos related diseases are diseases of the lung that occur as a result of breathing asbestos fibers.
The diseases of asbestosis and mesothelioma frequently do not occur until decades after exposure to asbestos. It is not uncommon for an individual to be in good health for three or four decades before a diagnosis of one of these asbestos caused diseases. Therefore, the asbestos lawsuits currently being filed involve an investigation of exposures that occurred many years ago. Many witnesses may no longer be alive and many of the manufacturers of the asbestos and asbestos containing products may be out of business or bankrupt. There are a number of trust funds that have been set up to pay future asbestos claims. These are some of the challenges that we face in litigating the current asbestos cases.
While finding an identifiable and solvent defendant is a challenge it is not difficult to prove that a mesothelioma case is caused by asbestos. That is because the only cause of mesothelioma cancer is asbestos.
I believe that the first asbestos lawsuit was filed in the 1920’s against Johns Manville, a construction materials manufacturer. It has been known since the 1920’s that asbestos was killing workers who developed asbestosis and mesothelioma. Many lawsuits have been filed over the years against Johns Manville, Union Carbide, Owens-Corning Fiberglass, Fibreboard Paper Products Corporation, Raybestos, Georgia Pacific, Grace, and many other corporations.
The asbestos industry has concealed the risks of asbestos exposure and kept asbestos on the market until the 1970s. It is estimated that approximately 50 thousand American workers have died from asbestos during those years. This does not include deaths due to secondary exposure such as a worker’s spouse washing the workers asbestos contaminated clothes. There are many known mesothelioma cases of spouses and family members of asbestos workers as a result of these secondary exposures. Many of those exposed in this secondary manner have brought successful lawsuit.
Workers were not generally aware of the risks of asbestos until the 1960s and 1970s because the industry kept the danger secret so that they could enjoy the profits derived from sale of the products in spite of the worker deaths and illnesses. There is one report from a lawsuit of an asbestos worker in the 1950s who decorated his family Christmas tree with the white asbestos from work and exposed has family because he was unaware of the potentially fatal risk of asbestos inhalation. A number of juries in lawsuits have awarded huge punitive damages against the manufacturers of asbestos for their callous and outrageous conduct in putting profits ahead of safety.
Any individual who receives a diagnosis of asbestosis or mesothelioma should contact our law firm or another experienced law firm to get legal advice immediately. There are short statutes of limitations or time limits for filing lawsuits after the time of diagnosis that will bar a case if it is not promptly filed.