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Month: August 2013


Willow Grove Property Owner Indicted for Violating Asbestos Regulations

Philadelphia, PA – A man from Willow Grove (PA) was charged for allegedly hiring general laborers instead of authorized contractors for removing hazardous asbestos material from a Philadelphia property owned by him.

David Mermelstein was charged by the federal authorities with 5 counts of illegal asbestos removal in a Tuesday indictment, according to Zane David Memeger – the United States Attorney who represents the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.

According to the indictment, from 2009 September until 2010 April, Mermelstein hired day laborers, instead of hiring contractors who are licensed to handle asbestos abatement jobs, for removing hazardous asbestos from his 10175 Northeast Avenue property. Additionally, the indictment alleges that the defendant carried out the dangerous job without any safeguards that are required under the federal and state regulations for protecting people including workers from being exposed to asbestos fibers. No measures had been taken to prevent asbestos fibers from being airborne, according to the indictment.

If asbestos fibers are inhaled, they will stay on lungs without any damage for long and will cause the individual to develop deadly diseases such as mesothelioma and lung cancer after several decades. Asbestos-related diseases like mesothelioma (a cancer of the mesothelium) are incurable. For this reason, asbestos is highly regulated by the United States Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Whoever violates the safety regulations could be sentenced for imprisonment, in addition to massive fines.

The unsafe and illegal disposal of a dangerous material such as asbestos threatens the safety and health of the general public seriously, says David McLeod Jr., the special agent with criminal enforcement program of the EPA for the Middle Atlantic States. McLeod said the agency believes the defendant intentionally directed the illicit removal of dangerous demolition debris which contained asbestos. Asbestos can be extremely dangerous if it is disturbed or broken.

The indictment demonstrates that whoever tries to make profits by violating the regulations and spoiling the environment will definitely be held accountable and vigorously prosecuted, McLeod said.

The defendant could be sentenced for imprisonment of up to 25 years if convicted, in addition to a penalty of up to $1.25 million.

The EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) investigated the case together with the Air Management Services of Philadelphia. Assistant United States Attorney Virgil Walker is prosecuting the case, along with special assistant United States attorney Ms. Patricia Miller.


Asbestos Exposure Kills former Railroad Worker

A former railroad worker, who had to spend nearly 27 years dealing with dangerous asbestos material, has died after developing an industrial disease.

Harry Roome, who was a Warwick Ave. (Derby) resident, died last month after fighting a long disease and shortness of breathing. Roome was 83 years old. He worked at the Derby Litchurch Lane Works (formerly Derby Carriage & Wagon Works) between 1945 until 1948. Mr. Roome was a body building trainer there.

Asbestos, a dangerous carcinogen, was regularly sprayed on every carriage for protecting them from unfavorable weather conditions. Roome had told his friends and family members that sprayed asbestos particles covered the entire area like snow.

A short time was there when Roome worked in the Royal Navy (RN) as cook (from 1948 until 1955). There he wasn’t exposed to the lethal dust. However, after leaving navy, he returned to British Rail and worked there until 1966. Asbestos exposure was inevitable there.

Roome left the railroad industry in 1966 and started working in the construction field in Derby. Then he had to deal with the redevelopment and demolition of many council houses. Roome was exposed to asbestos fibers during this job as well. Asbestos was a very common construction material before the 1960s, the court of the South Derbyshire Coroner heard.

Terrence, the son of Mr. Roome, said his father was very practical all through his employment. Terrence says Roome should have breathed in the hazardous particles of asbestos on a regular basis.

Terrence said nobody was aware then of how toxic those particles were. He said no health & safety rules had been established then for protecting workers like Mr. Roome. He said not only his father, but all other workers like him would have inhaled the deadly fibers of asbestos regularly during their job with the railroad company.

Post-mortem examination was conducted by Dr. Andrew Hitchcock and it was found that he had developed cancer because of his industrial exposure to asbestos. Hitchcock said he found asbestos particles in Mr. Roome’s lung tissue even without performing any special tests, which is generally required to determine asbestos exposure. He said there was infection in Roome’s airways. Additionally, a tumor was there in his lungs, Hitchcock said. He said Roome would have struggled very much for breathing properly due to his condition prior to his death.

Louise Pinder, the deputy coroner, recorded a death verdict due to an industrial disease.


May Whitney School to be Examined for Asbestos

May Whitney School is going to be tested for hazardous asbestos. Two inspectors will examine the elementary school after the Lake Zurich School District (Community Unit) 95 board decided to respond to the concerns raised by one of the members regarding former inspections.

Eileen Maloney, one of the board members, wished to hire another inspector for replacing Asbestos Inspection & Management, an Elk Grove (Sacramento County, California)-based company that has been doing such works for the school district since year 1991. However, the other board members determined to go with 2 sets of eyes for the asbestos inspectors which are needed at the school building twice every year due to its age as well as presence of dangerous asbestos.

It is an undisputed reality that asbestos can cause deadly diseases such as malignant mesothelioma, asbestosis, lung cancer, pleural plaques, and several other severe health issues. However, still it is quite common to see asbestos in schools, homes, hospitals and many other buildings, especially if these buildings are old (constructed before 1980s).

Asbestos is found in an extensive range of construction materials. For instance, floor tiles, piping insulation, wall plaster, ceiling tiles, cement, joining compounds, and automotive brakes and clutches etc. The material was also used in many other materials. Such asbestos-containing materials can be found in school buildings as well.

Experts say undisturbed ACMs (Asbestos-Containing Materials) don’t generally pose any health risk. But, when asbestos materials are disturbed or damaged, they emit asbestos fibres into the surroundings. When asbestos fibers are airborne, they do pose a high health risk because these fibers become easily inhalable then. Inhalation of asbestos fibers can result in mesothelioma, asbestosis, and / or lung cancer.

For protecting children from being exposed to asbestos and materials containing asbestos, the United States Environmental Protection Agency was asked by the AHERA (Asbestos Hazard Emergency Response Act) in year 1986 to establish a program to manage the dangerous minerals present in school buildings.

AHERA requires all schools in the United States: to perform an inspection of asbestos and ACMs in school buildings and to repeat the inspection after every 3 years; to develop as well as maintain a management plan for asbestos and always keep a copy of it at the school; to notify the parent, staff and teachers regarding the asbestos management plan of the school and actions taken to remove asbestos present in the building; and train the custodial staff.


47 Companies Sued in Asbestos Case

Charleston, WV – A woman is suing 47 defendant companies in a case relating to asbestos exposure that allegedly caused the death of her father.

Mr. Phillip Ohlinger was diagnosed by his doctors with asbestos-related lung cancer in March, the suit says. He passed away on 9th July, the lawsuit filed on 30th July in Kanawha County Circuit Court says.

Ann Ohlinger says he smoked a pack of cigarettes each day from year 1950 to 2003, but gave up that habit then. The defendant companies exposed Mr. Phillip Ohlinger to hazardous asbestos at the time of his employment as a sales man, furnance stoker, maintenance worker, and laborer between 1953 and 1992, the lawsuit says.

Ann Ohlinger says the defendant companies negligently exposed her husband to dangerous asbestos products, in spite of their knowledge that asbestos can cause fatal cancer. The companies are also being sued based upon the theories of contaminated buildings, violation of warranty (expressed and implied), deliberate or intentional tort, strict product liability, misrepresentation, conspiracy and post-sale responsibility to warn, according to the suit.

Additionally, some companies are being sued as owners of premises and also as employers of Mr. Philip Ohlinger for intentional / deliberate tort, according to the lawsuit.

Ann Ohlinger is asking for a court trail for resolving the issues he has specified in the lawsuit. Victoria Antion, Scott McGee, and Anne McGinness, 3 lawyers with prominent law firm Motley Rice, and Christopher Tenoglia, an attorney from Pomeroy, Ohio, are representing the plaintiff in this case. The case will be presided over by a visiting judge.

3M Co; A.W. Chesterton Co; Air & Liquid Systems Corp; Ajax Magnethermic Corp; American Electric Power Service Corp; Beazer East Incorporated; Brand Insulations Incorporated; Catalytic Construction Co; Caterpillar Incorporated; and Certainteed Corp are the companies named as defendants in this case.

The fact that asbestos exposure can cause severe diseases such as lung cancer and malignant mesothelioma was not known to the public until the 1980s. So, asbestos was extensively used as a construction and industrial material until the 1980s. The government started regulating the material after that. However, it is not fully banned in the United States. Exposure to asbestos and inhalation of asbestos fibers can cause respiratory problems, asbestosis, mesothelioma and lung cancer later in life. Asbestos-related diseases usually take decades to start showing their symptoms. But, once appeared, asbestos-related diseases such as mesothelioma kill its victims within a year.


Eagle Man Imprisoned for Asbestos Mishandling

Boise, Idaho – A former building overseer convicted of improperly handling pipes covered with dangerous asbestos at the time of a renovation of the municipal water & sewer system of Orofino 4 years ago was sentenced to 6 months of imprisonment.

The punishment was handed down by United State District Court Judge Hon. Edward Lodge on Wednesday. Douglas Greiner, an Eagle resident and a former employee of Boise, Idaho-based Owyhee Construction Incorporated, was the plaintiff in the case. Greiner is 53 years old. He apologized in court for all his unlawful acts that could’ve put many into the risk of asbestos exposure.

As part of his deal with federal prosecutors, Greiner admitted guilty to a count of breaching work place standards under the CAA (Clean Air Act). According to federal investigators, Greiner did not follow the procedures for cleaning up the asbestos-covered pipe. Additionally, the investigators say, Greiner illegally dumped the hazardous material at 16 various locations around the town.

The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) stepped in and spent in excess of US$3.9M for cleaning up the waste disposal sites.

EPA’s criminal investigation is still underway. The agency’s investigation is mainly focused on Owyhee Construction’s executives.

United States Environment and Natural Resources Division’s acting assistant attorney general Robert G Dreher said criminal activities like that would endanger all the workers and also the public. It can also cost millions of dollars to the federal government, as what happened here, he said.

Asbestos exposure is injurious to health. It can cause several health problems and diseases and some of them are fatal. Asbestos exposure can cause cancers like malignant mesothelioma and lung cancer. Mesothelioma, a cancer that affects the mesothelium (a membrane of flat cells which lines the body cavity of embryos and forms the covering cells of the pleura, pericardium, and peritoneum) cannot be cured. It kills victims usually within a year or 2.

Though asbestos is a highly regulated substance now, asbestos exposure still continues, especially during building renovation, maintenance and demolition, according Dr. Barry Castleman, an Environmental Consultant trained in chemical & environmental engineering. Castleman says asbestos exposure takes place during the repairing of automotive brakes as well.

The Environmental Protect Agency had finalized a phase-out & ban rule for asbestos in year 1989. A lawsuit was filed by the asbestos industry against the rule and it was overturned in 1991. Though there are strict regulations regarding asbestos handling, its use is not illegal in the United States in certain applications.


Former Pipefitter Develops Malignant Mesothelioma

New Orleans, Louisiana – An ex-pipefitter is suing a number of companies in an asbestos-related suit. The plaintiff says the defendant companies exposed him regularly to toxic asbestos fibers, as a result of which he was diagnosed with deadly lung cancer.

The lawsuit was filed by Mr. David Punch on 27th June in the Central Dist. Court in Orleans Parish. Asbestos Corp Limited, Taylor Seidenbach Incorporated, Eagle Incorporated, Rielly Benton Co, McCarty Corp, Anco Insulations Incorporated, Union Carbide Corp, The Cajun Co, Uniroyal Incorporated, Shell Oil Co, Occidental Chemical, E.I. Du Pont de Nemours & Co, Pharmacia Corp, Whitney Holding Corp, Chevron U.S.A Incorporated, Chevron Chemical Co LLC, Tin Incorporated, Lou Con Incorporated, RMJ Properties, Entergy Louisiana LLC, Maryland Casualty Co, and Gulf Engineering Co LLC are the companies named as defendants in this case.

Punch says he was working as a trainee pipefitter through many sites in the state of Louisiana for different employers between 1959 and 1973. He alleges that he was continuously exposed to dangerous asbestos and several products containing asbestos during that period. According to the plaintiff, he contracted mesothelioma, a terminal form of cancer that affects the mesothelium (lining of lungs, chest cavity and abdomen). Punch says his cancer was the direct and proximate result of his occupational exposure to lethal asbestos fibers.

Mesothelioma is a rare cancer. But it is not curable so far. Though treatments can only relieve some of its symptoms, mesothelioma victims usually dies within 18 months once the disease has been detected.

The defendant companies allegedly used and distributed products which were unreasonably hazardous. According to the suit, the defendants either did not warn at all or did not sufficiently warn the plaintiff and other workers regarding the hazardous nature of their products. The companies were negligent and they failed to provide their workers with a harmless working environment, the lawsuit states.

The plaintiff is asking for unspecified damages for all his past, present and future sufferings, medical expenses, physical pain, emotional pain and suffering, loss of enjoyments in life, loss of life’s quality, disfigurement, disability, loss of earnings, loss of earning capacity, and all other related losses.

David R. Cannella, an attorney with New Orleans, LA-based law firm ‘Landry, Swarr and Cannella,’ is representing the plaintiff in this case.

Hon. Sidney H. Cates IV, the judge for Division C of the 41st Judicial District Civil (Orleans Parish, Louisiana), will preside over the case.


Widower Files Asbestos Lawsuit

A UK widower has filed a lawsuit for in excess of £300,000 over his wife’s death.

Brian Butcher, a Woodfieldside (Blackwood) resident, is asking for at least £300,000, in addition to a personal injury claim of in excess of £1,000 from Newport council that took over liability for administering the claims against Gwent County Council. Gwent Council is not functioning now.

In his lawsuit, Butcher says his wife Mrs. Brenda Butcher was exposed to as well as inhaled massive amounts of asbestos fibers and dust at the time of her employment with Gwent Council – the corporate predecessors of the council – between year 1980 and 88.

Brenda Butcher, who passed away on 28th April, 2011 when she was 65 years old, had worked at Pengam Primary School (Commercial St., Pengam) as a caretaker and a cleaner. Brenda was responsible for heating that existed then as 2 sites. The plaintiff says a site was at Pengam Welsh where the gas fire boiler as well as pipes around it was wrapped with dangerous asbestos. Another site was primary school. There the surrounding piping work of the boiler also was asbestos-lagged.

The suit filed by Mr. Butcher states that most of the time of Mrs. Butcher, who was an efficient and proud cleaner, was spent by cleaning, including the cleaning of pipes and boiler rooms. The suit says the boiler rooms where Brenda worked were dusty and hot. While sweeping and cleaning up of asbestos debris and dust substantial amounts of the toxic fibres could’ve been scattered in the air in the limited spaces of those boiler rooms and Brenda should’ve inhaled them, the suit says.

Mr. Butcher alleges that his wife wasn’t warned regarding the hazards of asbestos exposure and inhalation of asbestos fibers and dust.

Butcher says his wife should’ve been protected from being exposed to the cancer-causing fibers. The exposure took place because of the negligence as well as violation of statutory duties by the defendants, their agents or servants, according to the lawsuit.

The plaintiff says his wife’s employer totally failed to provide her with a safe working environment. Additionally, the defendants failed: to provide proper equipment that would have prevented the entry of asbestos fibers into the air in Brenda’s workplace; and to make sure that all loose asbestos had been kept in proper closed containers while they were not in use, the plaintiff alleges.

Asbestos exposure and inhalation are the causes of malignant mesothelioma, a deadly cancer.


Family of Mesothelioma Victim Sues Companies

New Orleans, Louisiana – A family has filed a lawsuit against a number of corporations following the death of a man after he was diagnosed with asbestos-related lung cancer, which was allegedly caused by his occupational exposure to the hazardous material.

Richard, Timothy, Gerard, and Anatole Constant have filed a lawsuit against Asbestos Corp Ltd, Taylor-Seidenbach Incorporated, Eagle Incorporated, Rielly Benton Co, McCarthy Corp, Union Carbide Corp, Burmaster Land & Development Company, Zurich American Insurance Co, Metropolitan Life Insurance Co, and CSR Ltd. The suit was filed on 11th June in Orleans Parish Central Dist. Court. The plaintiffs are Jefferson Parish residents.

Richard, Timothy, Gerard, and Anatole Constant argue that late Nita Constant had been exposed to high levels of hazardous asbestos and asbestos fibres that were brought home regularly by Mr. Anatole Constant when coming back from his work. Anatole was working with Celotex Corp. She was also exposed to the deadly fibres from neighborhood and environmental exposure while staying at West Bank.

The defendant companies, which are miners, makers, sellers, providers, or contractors of asbestos and/or asbestos products, allegedly distributed and used many products which are unreasonably hazardous. The plaintiffs allege that the companies were negligent as far as the safety of workers is concerned. The defendants are responsible for the wrongful death, the suit says.

The claimants are seeking an unspecified amount in damages for mental anguish, emotional anguish, lost survival chance, and all other sufferings linked to the asbestos exposure. The suit is also seeking compensation for past, present and expecting sufferings and medical costs.

Mickey Landry, an attorney from New Orleans, LA-based law firm Landry, Swarr & Cannella LLC, is representing the petitioners in their legal battle against the defendant companies.

Hon. Tiffany Gautier Chase, the judge for the Division A of 41st Judicial District Civil Court in Orleans Parish, LA, will be presiding over the case.

Asbestos is the general name given to a group of mineral fibers occurring in the nature. The material is known for its excellent thermal insulating and tensile strength properties. Asbestos is usually found in vinyl floor tiles, insulation of heating system, sheet flooring, roofing shingles, cement, and a number of other construction materials. If asbestos material is disturbed or broken, it can release microscopic fibres into the air. Once asbestos fibres become airborne, they could be inhaled easily, and trapped and stay permanently in the lungs. These fibres can cause serious respiratory disorders after several decades. Some common asbestos-related diseases are lung cancer, asbestosis (scarring of lungs) and malignant mesothelioma (cancer of the lining of chest cavity, lungs and abdomen).