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Mesothelioma Legal News: Shipyards


 

WE CONNECT YOU WITH EXPERIENCED SHIPYARD MESOTHELIOMA LAWYERS.

Asbestos Fact: New York’s Mt. Sinai School of Medicine found that, among shipyard workers with 20 years or more of experience, 86 percent showed signs of asbestos-related cancer or other disease.

Finding the right lawyer to handle your case can be a very difficult and a time consuming task.Lawyers are very busy and may not be available to talk to you in your time of greatest need. We are here to assist you in finding an experienced Shipyard Mesotheliomalawyer to help you with yourlegal situation.

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Shipyards – Asbestos Trades –Asbestos Mesothelioma Lawsuit

'Take home' liability could mean limitless liability for asbestos defendants
3/20/2009 12:28 PM By Staff Reports 

During a recent gathering of asbestos legal professionals, aBeverly Hills conference focused on one central theme in emerging litigation trends: a new generation of problems -- connected to the last -- will mean a new wave of cases against a new slate of defendants.

With more than three decades past since the peak ofasbestos manufacturing and use in theU.S., the focus of lawsuits has shifted to what is often called "secondary exposure cases." These cases are filed on behalf of a new slate of plaintiffs, many a generation removed from those that comprised the height of asbestos litigation in the late 1990s when hundreds of thousands of cases were filed each year.

Likewise, the defendants include new businesses, most at least a step removed from the manufacturers,shipyards and refineries already forced into bankruptcy under the weight of billions paid in legal settlements.

With many of the first wave of plaintiffs deceased, and the businesses they sued bankrupt, it is no surprise the vast industry of asbestos lawyers would now be uncovering new cases along previously un-trod trails.

One such trail emerging as a potential highway of asbestos cases is take home liability cases. Commonly, these plaintiffs include everyone from children and spouses of those who worked around asbestos, babysitters who entered the employee's home, or independent contractors who worked with products containing asbestos.

Texas plaintiff attorneyShepard Hoffman described one form of take home liability extending "to those who regularly and repeatedly came in to contact with employees' work clothing consistently over a period of time."

New York attorney JohnCanoni said defendants in these cases have taken notice, raising in court their serious concern over the "specter of limitless liability."

New cases, new plaintiffs

The legal war over how courts will interpret the limits and legal responsibility in take home liability cases is now pitched in state-by-state battles. Some states, likeWashington,Tennessee,New Jersey andLouisiana have ruled that companies have a duty to protect and warn those who may become exposed to asbestos beyond their own employees, according toChicago defense attorney Jonathon Lively.

Others, notably,New York,Georgia,Kentucky,Texas,Michigan andDelaware have ruled against such duty. Many states, includingIllinois - and in whichMadisonCounty continues to be one of the larger asbestos dockets in the country -- are still hearing the cases that will determine the eventual legal precedence.

The cases that are setting the stage offer a glimpse into the next generation of clients.

"The housewife is the number one occupation listed for those now contractingmesothelioma,"West Virginia plaintiff attorney AnneKearse said.

ATennessee case involved a woman who died at the age of 24 after being exposed to asbestos from her father's work clothes. The woman was born premature and spent three months in the hospital where her father would come and hold her every day on his way home from work,Lively said.

Another case involves a plaintiff who was exposed to asbestos as a child from wrestling around with his father after work.

Canoni cited one of the most recent cases, a ruling from the Delaware Supreme Court earlier this month. Lillian Riedel sued ICI Americas, Inc., her husband's employer for nearly 30 years, for failing to warn her of the dangers of asbestos exposure from her husband's clothing.

"Does the employer owe a duty of care to the injured party who they may or may not have ever known, nor ever employed?"Canoni said.

According to court documents, the court ruled against Riedel, grantingICI's request for summary judgment "on the basis that ICI and Mrs. Riedel did not share a legally significant relationship that would create a duty ICI owed to her."

But that legal victory of the defense inDelaware is offset by plaintiff victories along similar lines in other states, notablyWashington.

Lawyers G. William Shaw and Michael K. Ryan wrote, "In a pair of closely watched asbestos cases, theWashington Court of Appeals on January 29, 2007 greatly expanded the duty to warn in asbestos cases."

The twin rulings in favor of plaintiffs found that a product manufacturer whose products do not include any asbestos is still responsible for exposure if the normal use of the product would cause them to become exposed from another source.

The court ruling "may have a direct impact on defendant manufacturers whose products may have required the use of asbestos-containing products to function properly," they wrote, which in turn, greatly expands the company's duty to warn about the exposure to asbestos. The ruling also greatly increases the pool of defendants that can be named inWashington asbestos cases.

Potential liability in states where duty to warn is expanded could soon extend to babysitters, school teachers and neighbors who could have been exposed by someone who worked around asbestos, according to asbestos conference presenters. The number of businesses who could be sued in asbestos cases is also greatly expanded, even to the point of including "mom and pop stores," one presenter at the conference said.

The cases with extended duty to warn are cropping up in asbestos dockets across the country. A brief review of cases filed recently inMadisonCounty, shows the subtle shift to the next generation of plaintiffs.

For example, among the 13 cases filed inMadisonCounty in a single week in February, few are direct lawsuits on behalf of a sick worker suing a former employer. One such example involves a lawsuit filed by Christine Warner ofTennessee on behalf of her mother who developedmesothelioma during her work as a seamstress at House of Fashions inMemphis for more than 30 years.

But most are less specific as to when and where the person was exposed to asbestos, likely built on duty to warn case law.

Pat Montgomery ofKentucky claims he developedmesothelioma after helping his father on the family farm for six years during the 1950s. AnIllinois woman claimed in her suit filed inMadisonCounty that she developedmesothelioma after being exposed through her husband.

Defending the case

The most important steps in defending against take home liability often occur early on in how the case is framed by the courts, according to Lively. The duty to warn is often determined by whether the court sees the case as one of misfeasance, poor action to warn, or nonfeasance, no action to warn.

"How a case gets framed in front of the court is going to greatly determine how it is going to end up," Lively said during the asbestos conference.

TheDelaware ruling involving Lillian Riedel, Lively said, was an example of the court assessing the failure to warn as nonfeasance, essentially ruling they had no duty to warn her of the potential exposure from her husband's work clothes.

Other cases where courts have ruled the company had a duty to warn and acted poorly to do so have led to plaintiff victories, the case of the 24-year-old woman fromTennessee for example,Lively said.

The outcomes of these cases differ greatly from state to state.

Hoffman said that despite the changing nature of the cases, juries still focus on the plaintiff and the harm done to them.

"Juries want to find a way to help out a family," he said, arguing that plaintiff attorneys must simply show the "contributing factors to a person contractingmesothelioma," and "the basis to hold the initiating company responsible."

Companies knew the dangers of asbestos, even on clothing leaving the plant for decades, Hoffman said, citing examples of safety measures that were commonplace.

"A study in 1913 discusses worker safety, of the need for lockers and showers and a change of clothes for workers before going home," Hoffman said.

While defense attorneys often point to 1972, when OSHA issued protocols to be followed regarding asbestos exposure,Kearse said that premise can be challenged in court.

"There's a lot of information out before OSHA,"Kearse said, starting with a report in 1937 that talks about safety policies related to asbestos.

"It was known and knowable how dangerous this was to work with," she said. "West Virginia had regulations in place since 1951, but it was rarely followed, if at all."

http://www.madisonrecord.com/news/218036-take-home-liability-could-mean-limitless-liability-for-asbestos-defendants

 
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Submarines – Asbestos Veterans – $7.5 Mesothelioma Award

California man awarded $7.5m in Mesothelioma case

December 19th, 2008 by Wendi Lewis

 

A mandiagnosed with mesothelioma earlier this year will receive a $7.5 million settlement against 11 defendants that reportedly made, supplied or distributed the asbestos-containing products he handled and was exposed to in the workplace, according to a story in the Times-Herald. Robert Hilt of Vallejo,California., is 64. It is believed he developedmesotheliomaduring his work as a marine machinist.

The case was heard in San Francisco Superior Court last month. The Times-Herald reportsthat two weeks into the case, the last of the defendants settled out of court. It is believed the settlement is the richest inCalifornia history, particularly for a person of Hilt’s age, the paper reports.

According to the Times-Herald, it is believed that Hilt was exposed toasbestos at a series of jobs in theSan Francisco area beginning in 1963 and continuing through 1972, during which he was employed as a janitor and later as a machinist in two shipyards, where heworked on submarines. Following his stint in the shipyards, Hilt worked for the U.S. Mint inSan Francisco until 2004. He and his wife, Geraldine, have lived inVallejo for about 20 years.

 

http://www.mesothelioma.law.pro/news/2008/12/19/california-man-awarded-75m-in-mesothelioma-case/

 
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Shipyards – Asbestos Trades – $7.5 Mesothelioma Award

California man awarded $7.5m in Mesothelioma case

December 19th, 2008 by Wendi Lewis

 

A mandiagnosed with mesothelioma earlier this year will receive a $7.5 million settlement against 11 defendants that reportedly made, supplied or distributed the asbestos-containing products he handled and was exposed to in the workplace, according to a story in the Times-Herald. Robert Hilt of Vallejo,California., is 64. It is believed he developedmesotheliomaduring his work as a marine machinist.

The case was heard in San Francisco Superior Court last month. The Times-Herald reportsthat two weeks into the case, the last of the defendants settled out of court. It is believed the settlement is the richest inCalifornia history, particularly for a person of Hilt’s age, the paper reports.

According to the Times-Herald, it is believed that Hilt was exposed toasbestos at a series of jobs in theSan Francisco area beginning in 1963 and continuing through 1972, during which he was employed as a janitor and later as a machinist in twoshipyards, where he worked on submarines. Following his stint in theshipyards, Hilt worked for the U.S. Mint inSan Francisco until 2004. He and his wife, Geraldine, have lived inVallejo for about 20 years.

 

http://www.mesothelioma.law.pro/news/2008/12/19/california-man-awarded-75m-in-mesothelioma-case/

 
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Shipyards – Asbestos Exposure – $10 Million Mesothelioma Damages

 

Meso lawsuit inVirginia tries new twist on asbestos litigation

December 2nd, 2008 by Wendi Lewis

 

A story published last week in the Daily Press, which servesNewport News,Virginia, reports a new approach to litigation on behalf ofmesothelioma victims injured byasbestos exposure on the job. The story involvesStanley Morton, whoworked in the shipyard for 33 years as an electrician. He contractedmesothelioma in 2005 after being exposed to asbestos fibers throughout his career, and died at age 72 in 2007. His family sought compensation from Exxon (now Exxon-Mobil) – the company that owned some of the ships Morton worked on – instead of any parts suppliers, a groundbreaking departure from the usual path for such suits.

 

A jury hearing the case was asked to award Mr. Morton’s family $10 million in damages against Exxon, because the company knew the risks of asbestos in its ships but did nothing to warn workers of the danger, according to the news story.

Attorneys for Exxon argued the asbestos could have come from any number of vessels or other sources, not just the Exxon-owned craft. They pointed out Morton worked on many types of ships, including Navy ships and cargo ships.

 

According to the news report, Exxon said it did not know of the dangers of asbestos on it ships until the late 1970s, but Morton’s lawyers alleged Exxon knew about the dangers of asbestos as early as 1937 and cited a 1964 letter from Exxon in which a company official warns that asbestos may be dangerous even to those who do not work in direct contact with the substance.

 

On Tuesday, theNewport News Circuit Court jury sided with Exxon-Mobil. According to the Daily Press, jurors felt the shipyard should be held responsible for Mr. Morton’s illness. However, the shipyard is protected by worker’s compensation immunity.

 

http://www.mesothelioma.law.pro/news/2008/12/02/meso-lawsuit-in-virginia-tries-new-twist-on-asbestos-litigation/
 
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Shipyards – Asbestos Trades – $2,245,000 Million Mesothelioma Verdict

 

San Francisco Jury Awards $2,245,000 to Bulldozer Driver and his Wife

 

On March 16, 2005, aSan Francisco jury awarded $2,245,000 to Daniel andVeneisa Johnson ofMarion,North Carolina for an asbestos-caused cancer. Mr. Johnson is dying ofmesothelioma, an incurable asbestos-caused cancer. This is believed to be the first verdict in theUnited States involving asbestos exposure from Caterpillar machinery.

 

Daniel Johnson is a 58-year-old bulldozer operator fromMarion,North Carolina who was exposed to asbestos from Caterpillar bulldozers while performing brake and other maintenance.

 

In March, 2004, Daniel Johnson, husband ofVeneisa Johnson, and father of two children, was diagnosed with malignantmesothelioma, a cancerwhose only known cause is asbestos. Mr. Johnson’s prognosis is terminal and his given three to six months to live.

 

Mr. Johnson filed his lawsuit inSan Francisco on July 15, 2004. In March, 2005, following a two-week jury trial, the jury found that the remaining defendant, Caterpillar, Inc., was responsible, in part, for Daniel Johnson’s cancer. The jury found that Caterpillar’s products were defective and Caterpillar failed to properly warn of asbestos hazards. Daniel Johnson performed brake servicing on Caterpillar bulldozers from 1978 to 1985 while employed as a bulldozer operator.

 

The jury found that Mr. Johnson suffered $995,000 in lost income and medical expenses and awarded $1 million in pain and suffering. In addition, Mrs. Johnson was awarded $250,000 for loss of her husband’s care, comfort and society.

 

Fact Sheet

Case Summary

 

Plaintiff alleged he was dying frommesothelioma caused by the totality of his asbestos exposure, including from Caterpillar, Inc.’s products. Plaintiff’s alleged exposure occurred as aboilertender in the Navy for four years between 1967 and 1970 aboard the U.S.S. Yorktown and U.S.S. Independence and at ToddShipyard inSouthern California for several weeks in 1971. From 1976 to 2004, Daniel Johnson was employed as a bulldozer operator inMarion,North Carolina. From 1978 to 1985, he assisted in the maintenance of brakes and the changing of gaskets on three bulldozers on approximately 15 to 20 occasions. Mr. Johnson alleges he was exposed to asbestos during the maintenance of the Caterpillar bulldozers.

 

Caterpillar alleged that there is no appreciable asbestos exposure during maintenance of such bulldozers. A special study from 2003 was presented to prove that assertion. In addition, Caterpillar presented achrysotile defense. Caterpillar’s position was that the Navy exposure alone caused Mr. Johnson’smesothelioma.

 

Jury Trial: Daniel Johnson andVeneisa Johnson v. Caterpillar, Inc., et al.

San Francisco Superior Court Case No. 432923

 

Judge: The Hon. Donald S. Mitchell, Department 602

 

Verdict

Rendered: March 16, 2005

 

Total

Verdict: $2,245,000

Economic Damages: $995,000

Pain and Suffering: $1,000,000

Loss of Consortium: $250,000

 

Allocations: Caterpillar, Inc.: 5%

All others: 95%

 

Estimated Judgment after credits: $900,000

 

Trial testimony: 17 days; Jury deliberations lasted 6 days

 

Trial commenced February 14, 2005 and concluded March 16, 2005

 

Expert witnesses:

 

Plaintiffs’ expert witnesses included:

 

   Richard Cohen, M.D.

   Richard Hatfield

   Arnold Brody, M.D.

   Barry Horn, M.D.

   Allan Smith, M.D.

   SamuelHammar, M.D.

   Barry Ben-Zion, Ph.D.

 

   Defendant’s expert witnesses included:

 

   John Spencer, C.I.H.

   Eugene Sweeney

   William Hughson, M.D.

   DennisPaustenbach, C.I.H.

 

   Plaintiffs’ attorneys:

 

   Carolin Shining, Esq.

   Paul & Hanley, LLP

   1608 Fourth Street, Suite 300

   Berkeley,CA94710

http://www.paulandhanley.com/CM/VerdictsSettlements/VerdictsSettlements89.asp

 
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Hunters Point Naval Shipyard – Died of Mesothelioma – $10 Million Mesothelioma Verdict

California Welder/Boilermaker Gets 10 Million Mesothelioma Verdict

Ulysses Collins andCloristeen Collins v. Plant Insulation Company (2009)
AlamedaCounty Superior Court No. RG04143303
Honorable Harry Sheppard,AlamedaCounty Superior Court Judge

Plaintiffs: Ulysses Collins,Cloristeen Collins, and Patricia Collins
Defendant: Plant Insulation Company

Ulysses Collinsdied ofmesothelioma at the age of sixty-five. He was a welder atHunters Point Naval Shipyard from 1960-1973, a welder/boilermaker at Standard Oil inRichmond,California from 1973-1976, and a welder at Mare Island Naval Shipyard inVallejo,California from 1976-1994.

The case settled before trial with various defendants and proceeded to trial only against Plant Insulation. Plant was the exclusive Northern California supplier of asbestos-containing thermal insulation manufactured byPabco/Fibreboard inEmeryville,California. Plant also was an insulation contractor at numerous industrial and commercial sites inNorthern California.

Trial commenced on October 2, 2008 and the jury returned a verdict on November 6, 2008. The jury verdict for plaintiffs was $10,038,000, which included $1,038,000 in economic damages. The jury determined that Plant was 20% liable for Mr. Collins'mesothelioma.

Ulysses Collins,Cloristeen Collins, and Patricia Collins were represented at trial by Firm principal Phillip Harley and associate MattThiel.

 
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Shipyards – Asbestos Exposure - Mesothelioma Deaths

 

Mesothelioma Deaths Ruled ‘Negligent Homicide’

 

Posted on Monday, May 03, 2010.


The shipbuilding industry is the single most hazardous work environment in terms of asbestos exposure.  Now some Italian executives are being forced to own up to that fact and face jail time.  An Italian court has convicted three ex-executives of the Fincantieri shipbuilding company inPalermo of ‘negligent homicide’ in themesothelioma deaths of 37 former employees.   The court ruled the defendants failed to protect or even warn the workers about the inherent risks of asbestos exposure – even though the danger had been known for years.

 

Shipyards are where large ocean-going vessels, such as cargo ships, oil tankers, military vessels or submarines are built or repaired.  Before the health risks of asbestos were known, such as causing mesothelioma, the mineral was prized in the shipbuilding industry for its strength, durability, anti-corrosive properties and heat resistance – qualities which made it an ideal insulator.  Until the 1980’s, asbestos was frequently used in ships to cover pipes, insulate walls, floors, ceilings, and boiler rooms, and in gaskets, gasket coverings, turbines and pumps.

 

Every year, about 10,000 people worldwide, many of them shipping industry workers, contract mesothelioma because of asbestos exposure. Shipyard workers whose job it was to repair ships, sailors who worked on those ships, and even longshoremen who loaded and unloaded ships were routinely exposed to asbestos, with sometimes deadly consequences. A 1980 study conducted atNew York’s Mt. Sinai School of Medicine found that, among shipyard workers with 20 years or more of experience, 86 percent showed signs of asbestos-related cancer or other disease.  Many of the study subjects had been exposed to asbestos during World War II, when asbestos use was at its peak and the fast pace of ship repair and maintenance had manyshipyards covered in the toxic dust.

 

Workers who are exposed to asbestos over an extended period of time are at highest risk for developing mesothelioma, which may not cause symptoms for 20 to 50 years.  Asbestos is no longer used in the construction of new ships, but is still present in older ships, putting those who repair or restore them at continued risk.  For this reason, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) now strictly regulatesasbestos exposure in shipyards.  

 

But despite such regulations around the world since the 1980’s, many workers, including those who worked at the Fincantierishipyard, are still being exposed illegally. The Fincantieri company was found to have continued to use asbestos in itsshipbuilding operations until 1999, three years after asbestos had been outlawed inItaly.  The convicted Fincantieri executives received sentences ranging from three to seven-and-a-half years in jail and will have to pay millions of Euros in damages to the families of the dead workers and to another 26 workers who are still living with mesothelioma.

 

Sources:

 

Ex-Fincantieri Directors Jailed After Asbestos Trial, April 26, 2010, LifeIn Italy.com

Nicholson, William, et al. “Lung Cancer Prevalence AmongShipyardWorkers”, January 11, 1980. American Journal of Industrial Medicine, Volume 1, Issue 2. Pp. 191-203.

OSHA Regulations 29-CFR, 1915-1001

 

http://www.survivingmesothelioma.com/news/view.asp?ID=00432

 
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New York Shipyard – Asbestos Related Deaths

Camco Is 6th In Asbestos Deaths

Study predicts number of cases will increase

Mar 4, 2004 |Cherry Hill Courier Post

 

A new study ranksCamdenCounty as having the sixth-mostasbestos-related deaths in the nation.

Only counties with major citiesLos Angeles,Chicago,Philadelphia,Seattle andHouston had more deaths, according to the analysis of government health statistics by the Environmental Working Group.

In effect, the study suggests many of the region's elderly residents, the shipyard, refinery and factory workers of the past are paying with their health for the region's industrial might.

Jack Higgins was a longtimeCamden city resident and worked in maintenance departments at twoCamden shipyards and RCA. He was 80 when he died in 1997.

"You had to sit and watch the body deteriorate while the mind was sharp as a tack. It was heartbreaking," said his son, Timothy Higgins, aCollingswood attorney. He added his father had to use bottled oxygen the last years of his life.

"He would describe it as if he were drowning, like he was under water and couldn't breathe," Higgins said.

Camden County, which had an estimated 458 to 532 deaths between 1979 and 2001, even ranked just ahead of Somerset County, once home to the largest asbestos manufacturing plant in North America, owned by the Johns-Manville Corp.

The analysis, released today by the Washington, D.C.-based group, predicts the number of deaths will continue to rise as latency periods for some of the most serious forms of asbestos-related diseases end.

The analysis of government statistics lists 10 otherNew Jersey counties among the top 100 with the most asbestos-related deaths.GloucesterCounty ranked 50th andBurlingtonCounty is 59th.

Gregg Shivers is aCherry Hill lawyer whose firm has represented some 2,000 asbestos-related injury cases over the past 15 years.

He was surprised byCamdenCounty's high ranking, but said large numbers of county residents once worked in industries that used or made asbestos.

Camden's now-defunctNew York Shipyard, for example, used asbestos in ship insulation, and Owens-Corning once manufactured asbestos insulation inBerlin, he said.

Anthony Olivo, 83, is a longtime Deptford resident. He worked around asbestos for 40 years as a pipe welder.

He says he has been coping well with the asbestosis, scarring of the lungs, that he contracted from decades of exposure. But he feels deeply responsible for the death of his wife, Eleanor, of mesothelioma, a cancer of the lining of the lung linked directly to asbestos.

She died at the age of 82, less than two years after her diagnosis. She was exposed to the fibers from washing her husband's work clothes.

"Had I known, I would have thrown the clothes away and put a new set of clothes on," he said, crying in the living room of their small Cape Cod cottage where his wife spent her last days.

"I don't know why the good Lord didn't give it back to me. She didn't deserve what she got," he said.

The study comes at a time when Congress is debating financial bailout plans for asbestos manufacturers and their insurers.

Asbestos use and exposure peaked in the mid-1970s, the study said.

At that time, more than 3,000 consumer and industrial products contained asbestos, asbestos factories were polluting neighborhoods, workers were exposed on the job and bringing asbestos fibers home to their families. Asbestos was also widely used in many buildings, including factories and schools.

But asbestos-related diseases have a 20- to 50-year latency period, meaning a substantial portion of those exposed in the 1960s and 1970s are just now getting sick or showing up in government statistics, the study concludes.

Shivers expects an increase in the numbers of lung cancer and mesothelioma cases his firm will handle over the next decade because of the long latency periods for these diseases.

During the study period, at least 43,000 Americans died from mesothelioma and asbestosis. But the Environmental Working Group maintains the number could be much higher.

"The actual number of deaths from these two diseases could easily be twice as high due to chronic misdiagnoses of both diseases and the absence of federal tracking for mesothelioma for nearly all of the time period analyzed," the study reported.

The study adds that lung cancer deaths from asbestos exposure are not reported at all and asbestosis, a non-cancer disease, is still "dramatically underreported, even in worker populations where asbestos exposure is well established."

The federal government banned many uses of asbestos in the early 1980s, including use in ranges and ovens, refrigerators, dishwashers, deep fryers, electric blankets and popcorn poppers.

At the same time, asbestos remains widely used in brake shoes and roofing products, and can still be found in a number of other products, including cement wallboard, heating duct insulation, boiler insulation, vinyl floor tile and sheet flooring and pipe insulation, the study asserts. It also notes that these products are not required to be labeled as containing asbestos. The group is looking for a complete ban.

 

Cherry Hill Courier Post

 
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Shipyard Workers – $10 Million Mesothelioma Verdict

Jury awards shipyard worker's widow $10M

Jul 27, 2006 | AP

 

A jury awarded $10.4 million to the widow of a formershipyard worker who died of lung cancer after four years of working with materials that contained asbestos.

The Newport News Circuit Court verdict in Wanda Jones' wrongful death lawsuit against three companies that manufactured the materials was handed down Wednesday, the first anniversary of the death of 60-year-old Buddy Jones.

"It's a mixed day," Wanda Jones said. "At least there's been some justice and recognition for what he went through, certainly through no fault of his own. He just went to work and did what he was trained to do on the job."

Her attorney, Robert Hatten, called the verdict a landmark because one-third of the judgment will come from John Crane Inc., which has refused to settle other asbestos cases.

"A lot of these companies now accept responsibility and settle these cases regularly," said the palntiff's attorney, who has represented thousands ofshipyard workers exposed to asbestos. "I hope this verdict will make companies like John Crane change their corporate attitude."

Attorneys for John Crane, a unit of British manufacturer Smiths Group PLC, said the company's products could not have harmed workers.

"We defend cases because we believe in the safety of the product," attorney Ed Mueller said. "If you were sitting here right now, I'd take a piece out and put it around my neck and wear it home."

Mueller said the company, which stopped making products with asbestos in the 1980s, will appeal the verdict.

The judgment is split with two other companies: Denver's Johns Manville Corp., a unit of billionaire investor Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway Inc. that makes roofing, insulation and other industrial materials; and Garlock Sealing Technologies, a Palmyra, N.Y., unit of EnPro Industries Inc. in Charlotte, N.C.

Buddy Jones wasdiagnosed with mesothelioma, a cancer caused almost exclusively by asbestos. Because the cancer can lie dormant for 20 to 50 years, some oldershipyard workers are just realizing the effects of their asbestos exposure.

Dr. John C. Maddox testified at the three-week trial that he has seen about 500 mesothelioma patients in his practice atRiversideRegionalMedicalCenter.

Jones spent four years sealing pumps and making gaskets at Newport News Shipbuilding now Northrop Grumman Newport News in the 1960s before returning to college and becoming a computer programmer inRichmond. When he suddenly got sick in late 2004, his doctor thought it was pneumonia. Then he found the tumors in Jones' lungs. Jones died within a year.

Theshipyard stopped using products containing asbestos the mid 1980s.

 

Associated Press

 
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Shipping Industry – Asbestos Related Deaths

L.A. Tops Nation In Asbestos-Linked Deaths

Mar 4, 2004 |Los Angeles Daily News

 

Los AngelesCounty has more asbestos-related deaths than anywhere else in the country, and the incidence of illness caused by the mineral is expected to rise over the next 20 years, a report released today says.

The report by the Environmental Working Group estimated that 1,227 county residents died of asbestos-related illness from 1979 to 2001, slightly more than the 1,051 inCookCounty, Illinois., which encompasses theChicago area. Nationwide, some 10,000 people died of asbestos-related disease in 2002.

Experts saidLos Angeles' large population, plus the widespread asbestos use in theshipping industry and post-World War II construction, help explain the county's high death figures.

"We were just floored when we looked at the deaths from this substance," said Richard Wiles, senior vice president of the Washington, D.C.-based environmental group. "We need to think of this as a 50-year problem because we still haven't banned asbestos.

Asbestos fibers can become embedded in the lungs and cause asbestosis essentially, scar tissue in the lungs or a usually fatal form of cancer calledmesothelioma. Not all people exposed to asbestos become ill, but even small amounts can cause mesothelioma.

Until its dangers became well-known, asbestos was commonly used in construction and insulation materials and as a fire retardant. Its use peaked in the mid-1970s, when there were more than 3,000 asbestos-laced products on the market, though there were few safeguards for workers and their families exposed to asbestos dust.

Even today, asbestos is used in some cement pipes, vinyl floor tiles, duct insulation, floor backing and decorative plaster.

Cancer and other diseases linked to asbestos can remain dormant for 20 to 50 years, meaning people who worked with the fibers before safeguards were phased in during the 1970s could still develop potentially fatal illnesses.

U.S. Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, has proposed the creation of a trust fund, financed by asbestos manufacturers and insurance companies, to handle lawsuits filed by asbestos victims and their families without bankrupting businesses.

Insurance companies anticipate $120 billion in asbestos claims worldwide and have pushed for national legislation to cut litigation, streamline the compensation process and set aside money to help people diagnosed with asbestos diseases.

"We know that 90 percent of current claimants have no signs of illnesses, but they are trying to get in before all these companies go bankrupt," said Peter Moraga, spokesman for the Insurance Information Network of California.

Already, some 70 companies have filed for bankruptcy protection.

Michelle Harrington has filed a $100,000 claim against W.R. Grace, which declared bankruptcy in 2001, in part because of damages awarded in wrongful-death suits stemming from its mine inLibby,Mont., where some 200 townspeople died from asbestos-related diseases.

The owner of Harrington Tools is seeking to be reimbursed for having to clean up asbestos contamination in theWest San Fernando Road building she bought in 1992 a structure previously owned by a company that processed more than 100,000 tons of insulation, using asbestos from the Libby mine.

"Not being my responsibility or my fault, I was absolutely furious," Harrington said. "Private companies cannot be held responsible or accountable for something they never did."

California toxicologists are analyzing historical cancer and cause-of-death data in the neighborhood around theWest San Fernando Road plant as part of a national study of plants that processed the Libby material potentially discovering a new group of victims who might seek compensation.

 

|Los Angeles Daily News

 

 
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