When Ramesh and Vikas Jain began their multi-million-dollar redevelopment project on the site of a former Westinghouse research and technology park, they were aware that they site was contaminated with asbestos, the carcinogenic material that causes malignant mesothelioma and other deadly diseases. The two are successful businessmen whose assets total between $13 million and $14 million and who own several companies, and they were well aware of both Pennsylvania state and federal regulations regarding the handling of the toxic material. Despite this, they chose to move ahead as though there was no hazardous waste on the site. They failed to obtain permits for the handling of the material; to provide workers with protective clothing or respirators; to take precautions to prevent against the spread of asbestos dust into the community; or to dispose of the asbestos in the proper way. As a result, they have been assessed a $1.47 million fine – the largest ever assessed – by the Allegheny County Health Department.
The fine for having exposed the community and their workers to the risk of mesothelioma was originally assessed in an emergency order on June 2, citing the more than 130,000 square feet of asbestos floor tile and pipe insulation that had been removed from the site illegally. The father and son developers responded with a penalty-reduction appeal, claiming that they were unable to pay such a large amount of money. But department hearing officer Max Slater denied their appeal and ordered them to pay the full amount or post a bond for the amount within one month. In his rejection he noted their assets, as well as an assessment that determined that the minimum fine that they could afford would be roughly $1.25 million. Though the two may appeal the overall ruling that they violated law, the state Air Pollution Control act sets forward a requirement that all fines be prepared before any appeal can be heard.
Knowingly exposing the community or employees to the risk of malignant mesothelioma is a crime for good reason: it is an incurable disease that causes untold pain and suffering. If you are a victim of negligence involving asbestos, you need representation by an experienced, knowledgeable mesothelioma attorney. Contact us today at 1-800-966-2244.