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SeattleWashington - Asbestos Synthetic Fibers– $10.2 Million Mesothelioma Verdict
Former Camas mill worker defends award
By Michael Andersen Columbian staff writer
Publication: The Columbian (Vancouver,Washington)
Date: Thursday, December 24 2009
A worker who developed incurable cancer after 16 years atCamas' paper mill is fighting to keep a $10.2 million jury verdict in his favor.
HenryBarabin, currently ofSun City,Arizona, was assigned to use compressed air to clean a large felt ribbon that containedasbestos, his lawyer said in an interview Tuesday.
Barabin, now 70, worked at the mill from 1968 to 1984. Then operated by CrownZellerbach, the mill was the county's largest employer in the 1970s. In 2006, he was diagnosed withmesothelioma, a rare cancer of the pleura, the thin covering that protects the lungs. The disease is nearly always caused by exposure to asbestos, a mineral fiber widely used in construction and manufacturing for most of the 20th century.Barabin's family didn't respond to a call for comment. Today, Camas' Georgia Pacific mill and other paper mills usesynthetic fibers instead of asbestos in their ribbons. But others who worked in paper mills before 1980 also risk developingmesothelioma or other, treatable cancers, saidBarabin's lawyer, JamesNevin ofBrayton Purcell LLP 's office inNovato,Calif., nearSan Francisco. "Asbestos is very strong, durable,"Nevin said. "The problem is, those same propensities - it has them when it is inhaled into your body." That's whyBarabin's condition might yet appear in other workers who had jobs involving asbestos. "People like him, who were exposed years ago, are still going to be developing diseases, because they are such long-latency diseases,"Nevin said. "Most doctors don't know to even ask about history of asbestos exposure. (At-risk workers) need to be assertively telling their doctor, 'I need to be monitored for this.'" In theU.S., about 3,000 people are diagnosed withmesothelioma annually,Nevin said.Barabin and his wife, GeraldineBarabin, suedScapa Dryer Fabrics andAstenJohnson, manufacturers of the paper-making equipment.
On Nov. 19, a federal jury inSeattle awarded theBarabins $10.2 million for medical expenses, lost income, suffering and lost years of their marriage. The two manufacturers are jointly liable. They are currently preparing arguments to overturn the verdict,Nevin said. Neither company could offer a spokesperson for comment Wednesday. CrownZellerbach's liability was covered by the state workers' compensation law.Nevin said theBarabins have already received payment through that system.Barabin lived inOregon when he worked at Crown,Nevin said. To protect themselves from liability,Nevin said, the manufacturers should have stopped producing felts that included asbestos. "They knew in the 1920s that asbestos dust released from products was causing asbestosis," he said. "They knew in the '30s that it was causing lung cancer. And by 1960 they knew it causedmesothelioma."
Seattle Washington – 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-defunct New 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