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Month: November 2013

News

Asbestos Removal Ongoing at Sevier County Courthouse

Sevierville, Tennessee – Warning signs have been placed at Sevier County Courthouse for warning about the presence of asbestos. The dangerous material is there in the shingles that are being replaced on the roof of the building. However, county spokesperson Perrin Anderson says that is not a health threat to individuals who are staying out of the restricted areas.

Some shingles present on the 2 older portions of the roof – the 1971 addition and the original structure – contained the deadly carcinogen, Anderson said. The officials were fully aware of the asbestos presence. The removal as well as remediation of asbestos had been included in the contract for replacing the roof, according to Anderson.

Asbestos is a fibrous silicate mineral occurring in the nature. It was commonly used in construction works until the 1980s due to its exceptional strength and excellent resistance against heat, electricity and fire. Its use became restricted and highly regulated later as testing showed asbestos exposure could result in lung cancer, asbestosis and malignant mesothelioma. Asbestos-related diseases usually appear several decades after the exposure to asbestos fibers. However, all the asbestos-related diseases, especially mesothelioma, are deadly. Mesothelioma is a rare cancer which affects the mesothelial cells.

According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), asbestos can release minute fibers into the environment if the products containing the material are disturbed, damaged or broken. Asbestos products could be disturbed during repair, remodeling or demolition of old buildings and therefore such jobs should be done with extreme care. Only authorized contractors are allowed to handle works involving asbestos. Asbestos is not dangerous as long as its fibers do not become airborne, according to the agency.

Anderson said asbestos is not there inside the courthouse building. He said the roof is separated from the main floors of the building, which still remain in use, by a number of layers. He said it is not a hazard to the folks who are inside the building as asbestos is present only in roofing shingles, which are being collected as well as bagged as they are removed. They are being placed in a container for disposal, Anderson said.

The areas where the crews are working have been roped off in order to ensure the safety, according to Anderson. He said there should not be any risk to the people as long as they stay out of the restricted areas.

News

Georgia Pacific Wins Favorable Ruling in Former Carpenter’s Mesothelioma Lawsuit

Edwardsville, IL – Carson Menges, the attorney representing the plaintiff, told the jurors in Madison County court on Tuesday that the quantity of asbestos fibres in a can of joint compound manufactured by Georgia Pacific decades back would stretch past the Mars if they are laid end-to-end.

The trail, which is playing out at the court of Associate Judge Hon. Stephen Stobbs, was a very rare incident in the busiest asbestos court in the United States.

The suit was filed by Kansas resident James Reef in 2012 December. Dozens of companies have been named in the suit as defendants. The defendants, including Georgia Pacific, manufactured, distributed, sold or used products containing asbestos. All the companies except Georgia Pacific settled the lawsuit out of court. Georgia Pacific is the only defendant which decided to take the lawsuit to court trial. Reef is 69 years old.

According to the suit, Reef started his carpentry in year 1965 when he was only 19 years old. He claimed that he spent nearly half of his time working on drywalls using the joint compound paste manufactured and marketed by Georgia Pacific. Reef alleged that the compound contained asbestos.

Reef was diagnosed with mesothelioma in 2012 October. Reef claimed that he developed the terminal cancer because of his exposure to Georgia Pacific’s joint compound which contained toxic asbestos. Inhalation or ingestion of asbestos fibres is the only known reason for mesothelioma. Mesothelioma is incurable. The victims typically die within a year.

Anne Ksionzyk, one of the witnesses for Georgia Pacific, took the stand. Menges questioned him first. Ksionzyk has been working as an employee of Georgia Pacific since year 1982.

Ksionzyk testified that a 3.2 pound ready mix compound can contained approximately 1.2 pounds of asbestos. Menges said that 1 pound of asbestos would stretch nearly 450 miles and if the fibres are placed end-to-end the distance would past the red planet.

However, Georgia Pacific argued that Reef contracted mesothelioma from asbestos present at insulation products, not from the company’s products. The court ruled in favor of the company.

After the verdict, Georgia Pacific said the company is satisfied with the court decision. It said the company has sympathy for the plaintiff Mr. Reef and his family. However, Reef’s cancer was actually caused by factors not at all linked to Georgia Pacific’s products, the company said.

News

Asbestos Lawsuit against Chevron USA Dismissed

An asbestos lawsuit filed against Chevron U.S.A., Inc. has been dismissed.

The suit was filed by Mary Alpough and her siblings on 16th August, 2011 on their late father Thaddeus Alpough’s behalf. According to the suit filed in Jefferson County Dist. Court, Chevron exposed the plaintiffs’ deceased father to toxic asbestos fibres while he was working with the company.

Court documents show that on 15th October, a joint motion was filed by the parties for dismissal of the suit with prejudice. The motion was granted by Hon. Gary Sanderson, the judge of the 60th Dist. Court, after 6 days.

According to the petition, Alpough was employed at the Port Arthur oil refinery of Chevron USA as a pipefitter and boilermaker helper. Both the occupations exposed him regularly to potentially deadly asbestos fibres and dust, the petition stated.

According to the suit, Thaddeus Alpough contracted asbestos-related lung cancer, pleural disease and gastric cancer because of this regular and long term exposure to asbestos fibers and dust. Consequently, Alpough died a terrible and painful death on 7th May, 2010, the suit claimed.

Chevron was aware of the fact that exposure to asbestos products can cause deadly diseases such as cancer, but still allowed its employees including Alpough to work around the dangerous products without any sort of protection, the plaintiffs argued. According to the claim, the company never warned its workers regarding the risks of working with and around asbestos products.

The family of Alpough was seeking punitive as well as exemplary damages. The plaintiffs were represented by J Keith Hyde, an attorney with Beaumont (TX)-based law firm Provost Umphrey.

Asbestos, a fibrous silicate mineral found in nature, was extensively used in U.S. industries until the 1980s. As the material was used in a number of different ways, a lot of people in different occupations suffered and is suffering from the ailments caused by their exposure to the dangerous mineral. Over many decades, asbestos products were used in petrochemical plants, shipyards, factories, paper mills, steel mills, telephone industry and the construction industry. Despite being a deadly carcinogen, the mineral had been used so extensively that almost everything related to design or construction exposed workers to some forms of asbestos. Unfortunately, most of the workers were not aware of the hazards of asbestos exposure while dealing with or working around the silent killer and their employers did not reveal it either.

News

Watertown Resident Arrested for Asbestos Violations

Watertown, New York – A Watertown (Jefferson County) resident has recently been arrested by the state police after he was accused of illegal removal dangerous asbestos during an asbestos abatement project at Watertown.

The police department says Aaron Netto, a 22615 State Route 177, Rodman Watertown resident, intentionally released at least 1000 pounds of non-friable and friable asbestos fibers into the air during his illegal asbestos abatement project. Netto is 36 years old.

Netto allegedly hired a man, who was around 50 years old, to assist him with the unlawful asbestos removal. All the asbestos were removed without using any protective equipment, the police department says.

Netto has been charged with endangering public health, safety or the environment in the third degree – a class E felony. Such a charge is issued against a person when he: carelessly engages in conduct that causes the discharge of a material which is acutely dangerous to the public safety or the environment; negligently engages in conduct that causes the emission of at least 2000 pounds or 200 gallons (whichever is less) of a total volume or weight of a material which is perilous to human health or the environment; and irresponsibly engages in conduct that causes the emission of at least 1000 pounds or 100 gallons (whichever is less) of a total volume or weight of a material which is injurious to human health or the environment and such a release poses a significant risk of injury to anyone who is not involved in the crime.

As exposure to asbestos fibers are injurious to health and can cause fatal diseases such as cancer, adequate precautions should be taken while handling the material. Some of the cautions include: wearing a self-contained breathing apparatus (such as a mask with HEPA filter) so that toxic fibers won’t be breathed in; not bringing work clothes home until they are completely washed so that the family members won’t be exposed to the cancer-causing particles; and showering after the work because asbestos fibres can reach home by attaching to the worker’s hair and skin.

It should be ensured that asbestos is being removed in proper way. It is very easy to adopt shortcuts when attempting to complete a building project. However, skipping required safety measures when dealing with asbestos is not the right thing to do that. All the measures to avoid exposure – such as wetting the material, sealing off the work area, using protective mask etc. – should be taken when handling asbestos.

News

Mesothelioma Victim Wins Compensation

A dying lady has won a blockbuster case against a corporation for historic environmental asbestos exposure.

The woman lived just 500 yards away from Turner Brothers, an asbestos plant at Hindley Green when she was between 5 and 19 years old. Now she is 61 years old.

After being exposed to the dust for years, she has now successfully recovered in excess of £70,000 in compensation from ‘Turner and Newall Asbestos after being diagnosed with deadly asbestos-related cancer in year 2012.

She said clouds of hazardous asbestos dust had been visible in the environment as they were growing up. Asbestos fibers would get on their clothes while paying in the fields which surrounded the plant during her childhood, she said.

She said she remembers asbestos fibers being brought into her house on clothes and shoes of the visitors. Asbestos fibers lined the outer window panes, she said. She is said to be the very 1st person to be compensated for asbestos exposure from the Hindley Green asbestos plant.

The plaintiff was a good runner. She visited her General Practitioner after experiencing breathlessness. A chest X-ray was taken and a shadow was found on her lung. Later she was diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma, a terminal form of lung cancer.

She says the disease completely shattered her life. She said she developed the fatal cancer only because she lived close to the Turner Brothers factory in Hindley. She says she had always been fit, active and busy. This is the most distressing time in her life, she said.

The plaintiff was represented by Thompson Solicitors, a law firm specializing in cases relating to industrial diseases such as mesothelioma. Her attorneys successfully secured compensation of £70,000 from ‘Turner and Newall Asbestos Trust,’ the fund established for compensating individuals exposed asbestos fibers by the company.

Steven Dickens, the attorney represented the plaintiff, said many individuals diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma were exposed to asbestos fibers before several decades while doing their job. Because of its long latency period, mesothelioma patients are generally diagnosed with the disease much later in life, Dickens said. However, in this case, occupational exposure was not the cause. The plaintiff was exposed to the deadly fibers while living near to the Turner Brothers plant, he said. According to Dickens, it was the 1st successful malignant mesothelioma claim in connection with the environmental asbestos exposure from the Hindley Green plant.

News

Asbestos Lawsuit Names 31 Companies as Defendants

New Orleans, LA – A man is suing a number of corporations for allegedly exposing him to hazardous asbestos fibres while living close to the defendants’ asbestos manufacturing plants and through the work clothes of his father.

Merlin Landry has filed a lawsuit against 31 defendant corporations in connection with his regular exposure to toxic asbestos fibers and subsequent development of a terminal cancer known as malignant mesothelioma.

The following defendant companies are either miners or manufacturers or sellers or distributors or contractors of asbestos: ANCO Insulations Incorporated; Asbestos Corporation Limited; Zurich American Insurance Company; Burmaster Land and Development Company LLC; Hopeman Brothers Incorporated; Eagle Incorporated; International Paper Company; Liberty Mutual Insurance Company; McCarty Corporation; Owens Illinois Incorporated; Metropolitan Life Insurance Company; Reilly-Benton Company; Taylor-Seidenbach Incorporated; Uniroyal Incorporated and Viacom Incorporated.

The following defendant companies are sued as employers or premise owners: Avondale Industries; Union Carbide Corporation; OneBeacon Insurance Company; Murphy Oil USA; Shell Oil Company; Shell Chemical, Chevron USA Inc.; Pharmacia Corporation; URS Corporation; Wyeth Holding Corporation and ExxonMobil.

Following are the insurance defendants: Maryland Casualty Company; Continental Insurance Company; Federal Insurance Company; Travelers Casualty and Surety Company; and Insurance Company of N. America.

According to the plaintiff, he was regularly exposed to elevated levels of dangerous asbestos from 3 sources: living close to plants manufacturing asbestos; living close to scrap metal depositories; and asbestos fibers that his father brought home while working with Walk Haydel Incorporated and Avondale Shipyard as a draughtsman. According to the suit, the plaintiff lived close to scrap metal depositories and asbestos manufacturing plants between 1940 and 1970.

The defendant companies are being sued on counts of: strict products liability for manufacturing, mining, supplying, selling, distributing and utilizing inherently hazardous, risky product; defective design; fraudulent concealment; and failure to warn. The companies are accused of failing: to provide safety instructions; to design products safely; to warn regarding the hazards associated with their product; to recall unacceptably defective products; and to safely packaging the products. Employers allegedly failed: to provide workers with a safe work environment; to follow vital safety guidelines; to warn the plaintiff’s father; and to monitor or oversee the situation.

The plaintiff is seeking an unspecified amount in medical expenses and costs, lost earnings, physical pain, mental anguish, emotional pain, loss of quality and enjoyments of life, and physical disability.

The case will be presided over by Division J Judge Hon. Paula A Brown.

News

Brookdale Spa Owner Sentenced for Asbestos Violations

Santa Cruz, California – The proprietor of Brookdale Inn & Spa in Brookdale (CA) has been sentenced recently to a year in federal prison for allegedly committing insurance fraud and for failing to disclose the injury of a worker and some other charges.

Sanjiv Kakkar admitted guilty to the charges and also to the misdemeanor failure to keep compensation coverage of workers in May. Kakkar is 52 years old. Kakkar has paid restitution of around $52000 and in excess of $10000 in penalties, said Kelly Walker, the prosecutor of Santa Cruz County.

Walker say they saw frequently employees put at high risk doing hard work without any recourse if they’re injured.

The case began nearly 4 years back as an employee of Brookdale Inn & Spa reported an occupational injury to the Office of the Santa Cruz County Dist. Attorney. The employee said Kakkar was not ready to pay his medical bill as required by law, according to Walker.

One of the forensic accountants from the state Insurance Department was called by the prosecutors and it was determined that wages at Kakkar’s spa were underreported. The accountant also found that insurance premiums were significantly underpaid, Walker said.

Further investigations conducted by other government agencies found a number of health & safety, building, tax code and labor code violations, Walker said.

Dangerous asbestos fibers were emitted into one of the dining rooms a few days prior to a Valentine banquet in 2011 with almost 150 senior citizens, according to prosecutors. Kakkar was asked to cancel that banquet. However, he neglected the order, prosecutors say. None of the citizens took part in the banquet was sickened.

Kakkar admitted guilty in last May to a misdemeanor count of violation of health & safety code for illegally operating his dining facility.

Kakkar and Neelam Kakkar – Sanjiv Kakkar’s wife – acquired the Brookdale Lodge located at 11570 Hwy 9 in year 2007 and changed its name. The building was constructed in 1890s. The historic structure has hosted President Herbert Hoover and Marilyn Monroe at its peak prominence.

Asbestos is a known cancer-causing substance. Though it doesn’t pose any health threat as long as remains stable, undisturbed and undamaged, asbestos can be deadly if its fibers become airborne (which occurs when the material is disturbed). Those who inhale asbestos fibers could contract fatal diseases such as lung cancer and malignant mesothelioma.

News

DEQ Fines Monroe Couple over Illegal Asbestos Work

OR – The Oregon State Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) has assessed a penalty of $10200 to Nathan Gamache and Sara Gamache from Monroe (Oregon) for allegedly allowing a person without license to carry out an asbestos removal project on a property the couple owns at 24956 Bellfountain Rd (Monroe, OR). Additionally, the DEQ has cited Gamaches for illegally storing asbestos-containing materials (ACMs) and debris in the open. Under the federal and state regulations, all asbestos materials and asbestos debris to be disposed should be packaged well in leak-proof containers.

A department inspector visited the site at issue on 7th August and noticed that the demolition debris – including drywall with popcorn ceiling texture containing asbestos – in an open drop box and a concrete pad close to that drop box. He also found uncovered asbestos-containing waste piles with a high potential to emit hazardous asbestos fibres into the environment.

On 12th August, the DEQ was contacted by the drop box debris hauler. The department was informed that those drop boxes weren’t empty. The waste hauler informed the DEW inspector (who visited Gamaches’ work site) that asbestos debris might have been buried on the Gamaches’ property. Later, the DEQ confirmed that asbestos debris had indeed been buried and required the couple to hire an authorized asbestos contractor to excavate the property and dispose the dangerous debris properly. The Gamaches complied eventually.

The Department of Environmental Quality enforces Oregon environmental regulations for protecting the help of people and for keeping the area’s air, water, and land healthy and clean. Asbestos fibres are a proven respiratory hazard which can cause fatal diseases like cancer as well. Inhalation of asbestos fibres could result in ailments such as asbestosis, malignant mesothelioma and lung cancer. Asbestos is therefore a threat to the public health. It is a dangerous air pollutant. For all these reasons, asbestos has been a highly regulated substance in the United States since the 1980s. According to the DEQ, there are no safe levels of asbestos exposure. Even low levels of asbestos exposure can result in diseases such as malignant mesothelioma, an incurable form of cancer that affects the mesothelium (a membrane which forms the lining of a number of body cavities). For safeguarding the general public, the Department of Environmental Quality requires licensing and training for individuals who deal with asbestos and materials containing asbestos. Violation of asbestos regulations often results in hefty penalties, in addition to imprisonment.