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New York City – Asbestos Exposure – Asbestos Lawsuit
Asbestos link probed in lawsuit
By LARRY ROBINSON
SATURDAY, AUGUST 1, 2009
POTSDAM — ANew York City law firm that specializes in cases involvingasbestos andmesothelioma is investigating whether an old boiler and asbestos-wrapped pipes were properly removed from the Potsdam Civic Center in 1999 and 2000.
Joseph W.Belluck, a partner in the law firm ofBelluck and Fox LLP, is representing the family of Sharon M.LaDuke, a longtime village employee who recently died ofmesothelioma, a rare form of cancer linked to asbestos inhalation.
In a 54-page lawsuit filed in State Supreme Court,Belluck and Fox names 68 defendants it alleges are responsible for the death of Ms.LaDuke.
Among the companies named in the suitare Cleaver-Brooks Co., a boiler manufacturing firm inWisconsin.
The suit does not name thevillage ofPotsdam, but Mr.Belluck said he expects the village to be added later.
He said his firm is investigating possible ways that Ms.LaDuke could have been exposed to asbestos fibers, including through her father's job at Alcoa in Massena and at her place of work at thePotsdamCivicCenter.
In particular, he said, there is evidence suggesting past asbestos abatement and removal at theCivicCenter may not have been performed properly.
"We are also investigating very seriously what took place at the village there," Mr.Belluck said. "We have obtained some documents that seem to indicate the removal of a boiler and some pipes. They may not have been removed with appropriate health and safety procedures."
According to information provided by village officials, a new Cleaver-Brooks boiler was installed in theCivicCenter in 1977. Cleaver-Brooks, which in the past also did business under the name of AquaChem, has been at the center of asbestos-related lawsuits across the country for years.
However, village Trustee Steven W.Yurgartis said he does not believe the unit installed at theCivicCenter in 1977 contained asbestos.
"A service technician from JW Stevens, the company who sold the boiler originally, when contacted by phone, thought that none of the boiler parts used asbestos," Mr.Yurgartis said.
He said that asbestos insulation in several downstairs locations, including the boiler room, was removed in 1999 and in 2000 the old boiler itself was taken out by village work crews.
Village officials have been grappling with the issue of asbestos in the workplace since the death of Ms.LaDuke and another longtime village employee. Trustees soon will decide whether to spend $20,000 to remove more asbestos from the village courtroom. The room is currently sealed off from the public.
In recent weeks, the village has conducted three separate air quality tests to make sure no asbestos was found in the atmosphere. All three of the tests have come back negative, according to officials.