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Month: April 2014


Former Home Remodeler Develops Malignant Mesothelioma

A Cook County resident is suing a number of companies following his malignant mesothelioma diagnosis which he alleges was caused by his occupational exposure to toxic asbestos fibres while working with and around the products designed, made, marketed, distributed, sold, installed, or used by the defendants.

Richard Schlaff has filed a suit on 15th April in the circuit court of Cook County against the companies, citing occupational exposure to asbestos dust and fibres. The defendants named in the suit include A W Chesterton Company, Union Carbide Corporation, and H B Fuller Company, in addition to dozens of other businesses.

Schlaff states that he had been exposed to toxic fibers of asbestos between years 1955 and 76 while working as a laborer, student, home remodeler and physician at different locations. As part of his jobs, he had to work with or close to the products manufactured, distributed or used by the defendant businesses, Schlaff claims. Many of those products contained asbestos – a notorious human carcinogen, he alleges.

Studies have proven that malignant mesothelioma is exclusively linked to the patient’s prior exposure to asbesots fibres, Schlaff says. According to the lawsuit, the plaintiff was diagnosed with the deadly cancer on 28th October, 2013.

The plaintiff is asking for damages of more than the jurisdictional limit for his physical pain and suffering, emotional distress, loss of enjoyments of life, medical costs, court costs, interest and attorneys’ fees. He will be represented by a Chicago lawyer.

Companies like A W Chesterton and Crane are facing numerous lawsuits filed by former employees who are now suffering from various asbestos-related ailments. These employees say the companies never warned them regarding the hazardous nature of their products while allowing them to deal with or working around them. The companies also failed to provide them with enough protective gears, according to the claimants. The workers were not aware of the fact that asbestos could cause them to suffer fatal diseases like cancer in the future. They say the defendant companies intentionally and fraudulently concealed that fact from them in their rush for gaining as much profit as possible.

As asbestos hadn’t been a regulated substance until the 1980s, most industries in the United States used this mineral abundantly due to its low cost and its useful features such as ductility, durability, resistance against heat and fire etc. For this reason, many former industry workers are now suffering from dangerous asbestos-related conditions such as mesothelioma.


Olympia Brown School Closed for Asbestos Removal

Caledonia – The fieldhouse of Olympia Brown Elementary School is closed temporarily for cleaning as well as asbestos removal, says Stacy Tapp, the spokeswoman representing Racine Unified.

A dist. buildings & grounds worker found some asbestos at the fieldhouse last month while doing some jobs on an air handler. Officials closed the fieldhouse and collected samples of dust and air. The samples passed the standards set by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

The dust was from the upper-level areas of the fieldhouse which isn’t accessible to the staff members or students, Tapp said. She said the dust also would be cleaned during the asbestos removal project. She is having the fieldhouse cleaned professionally and asbestos removal done. Olympia Brown won’t be using the fieldhouse in the meantime.

Tapp didn’t have any estimate on the expense of cleaning as well as the asbestos removal.

Asbestos is a common presence in structures constructed prior to the 1980s. Olympia Brown was constructed in year 1956 and was renovated in years 1960 and 70, the building documents indicate. Asbestos was abundantly used those days due to its amazing properties such as excellent resistance to fire, heat, corrosion and electricity, good strength, durability etc. Its low cost also made asbestos a favorite material for various industries. However, despite all these good features, asbestos is highly regulated now-a-days as it is a human carcinogen.

Asbestos is composed of numerous invisible fibres. These fibres, if breathed in, can lodge in the lungs of people and make them ill after many years or several decades. Malignant mesothelioma is a fatal cancer caused by the inhalation of microscopic asbestos fibres. Mesothelioma is not the only disease caused by asbestos exposure. The material is also linked to potentially dangerous conditions such as asbestosis, pleural plaques and lung cancer.

Many countries such as Australia have fully banned the use of asbestos. In the United States, asbestos is not banned but its use is highly regulated. Only licensed professionals are allowed to deal with asbestos.

Working with and close to asbestos is the main risk factor for the development of malignant mesothelioma. Though the material is not widely used now-a-days, asbestos is still present in a number of old buildings in the United States. Floor tiles, soundproofing compounds, door gaskets, ceiling tiles, insulations, ironing board covers, fireproof gloves, brake pads, clutches etc. are some products containing asbestos. Those who deal with or work around these products on a regular basis are at the risk of developing deadly conditions such as malignant mesothelioma.


EPA Fines Williamsport Company for Alleged Asbestos Violations

Attorneys representing Lycoming Construction Services, a Williamsport (PA)-based Limited Liability Co, has entered a guilty plea on Thursday before Hon. William Marion Skretny, the Chief United States District Judge for the Western District of New York in 2 Niagara Square, Buffalo, New York, to a breach of the Clean Air Act (CAA) for improper removal of asbestos during the tearing down of Dahlstrom Industrial Complex on Buffalo St. in Jamestown.

United States Attorney William Hochul said the company is facing a maximum fine of $500000 when sentenced on 13th August. Otherwise a term could be given barring the company from federal works for 5 years.

Because of a probe conducted by special investigators with the criminal division of the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the firm admitted that its employees had removed regulated materials containing asbestos illegally during the demolition process from 2012 January until 2014 November. During this job, asbestos materials were removed from a condemned building in that complex without properly wetting them, which is a violation of the federal Clean Air Act (CAA) work practices.

The demolition work involved a bunch of condemned structure on both sides of Chadakoin River, with illegal asbestos abatement work being carried out in one of those structures on Buffalo St.

Asbestos was so common in most of the industries and work places for many decades when it wasn’t considered a health risk. Many of its desirable properties (such as resistance against fire, heat, electricity and corrosion, strength, durability etc.), along with its low cost, made asbestos the most favorite among the industries. The dangerous features of asbestos became fully known in the 1980s and government agencies started regulating the material.

Working with asbestos and products containing the mineral is the foremost risk factor for malignant mesothelioma, a terminal form of lung cancer caused by the inhalation of minute asbestos fibres. Though the material is still used in certain products, its use has been restricted since the 1980s when the link between asbestos exposure and fatal conditions such as mesothelioma became apparent. The workers who deal with or work around asbestos-containing products such as floor tiles, insulation, soundproofing, door gaskets, roofing, fireproof gloves, patching compounds, brake pads, clutches, or ironing board covers, may show symptoms of malignant mesothelioma or other asbestos-related diseases such as asbestosis and lung cancer years or decades after initial exposure.


Warehouse Fires in Indianapolis Raise Asbestos Concerns

Indianapolis – Over a year, abandoned warehouse buildings across Indianapolis have been destroyed by three big fires. All fires have showed up health concerns for the firefighters as well as the nearby communities concerned about asbestos risk.

In June 2013, a Belmont Ave. warehouse caught fire. After three months, another warehouse on Van Buren St. caught fire. And, on last Friday, one more Van Buren St. warehouse burned.

The empty south-side warehouse building which caught fire last Friday contained asbestos. The neighbors are highly concerned as asbestos is a known human carcinogen.

Friday’s fire was the 2nd one in the same year. A nearby structure caught fire and asbestos-containing tiles burning on its roof created dangerous conditions for both onlookers and firefighters. Most of them say the structure should’ve been torn down many years ago.

Scott Logston, the owner of the house, says it should’ve been demolished or made safe for the general public and those who live around it.

Warning labels have been already posted around the warehouse site. According to the city officials, the owner, who has been fully cooperating, has hired an authorized asbestos abatement contractor.

Adam Baker, of the Indianapolis Code Enforcement Department, said they have got a very responsible property owner in the situation. Baker appreciated the property owner for acting responsibly and quickly to clean up the asbestos from the site.

Those who live close to the property want both the buildings to be demolished. They are highly concerned that somebody is intentionally burning the vacant structures and will keep on doing that in the future as well, endangering the firefighters and putting the community at health risk.

The actual cause of the fire has not been determined so far.

Asbestos had been extensively used in construction works until the 1980s because of its numerous desirable properties such as flexibility, durability, strength, and heat-, fire-, electricity- and corrosion-resistance. Its low cost also made asbestos a favorite substance among the industries.

However, it has some dangerous properties as well. Asbestos is made up of numerous microscopic fibres which can be released into the surroundings when the material is disturbed, damaged, deteriorated or broken. Airborne asbestos fibres could be breathed in by anyone quite easily. Asbestos inhalation is linked to a number of deadly ailments such as malignant mesothelioma and asbestosis. Asbestos-related diseases usually take 2 to 4 decades to start showing their initial symptoms.


Man Names Dozens of Companies as Defendants in Mesothelioma Lawsuit

Chicago, IL – A man from Cook County is suing a number of businesses over allegations that he developed malignant mesothelioma because of his everyday exposure to the defendants’ products containing asbestos.

Robert Spilky has filed a suit on 7th April in the circuit court of Cook County against dozens of businesses including A W Chesterton Company, Metropolitan Life Insurance Company and a number of other companies.

The complaint states that the defendants intentionally exposed Spilky to toxic asbestos fibres through the products they manufactured, marketed, supplied, distributed, sold or used during his employment between 1957 and 1978. Spilky had been working as a painter. He was also exposed to the dangerous mineral while working in non-occupational projects, the suit states.

Spilky says he was diagnosed on 5th March with malignant mesothelioma, a disease which is exclusively caused by the victim’s prior exposure to asbestos fibres. Occupational asbestos exposure is the cause of most mesothelioma cases, although it may also caused by secondhand exposure to the dangerous fibres. Secondhand exposure takes place when a worker carries asbestos fibres and dust home through his overalls. The family members of workers who regularly deal with asbestos are at the risk of secondhand exposure to the deadly fibres.

Robert Spilky is asking for damages of more than the minimum jurisdictional limit, in addition to all associated costs. A Chicago law firm will represent him in his battle for justice.

Malignant mesothelioma is a very rare cancer which invades the mesothelium (protective membrane) around the internal body organs. The only known cause for mesothelioma is inhalation of asbestos dust and fibres. In the United States, mesothelioma reports are less when compared to other types of cancers. Mesothelioma often goes undiagnosed for 30 to 50 years following the exposure. The reason is that symptoms of mesothelioma do not usually appear until the cancer reaches its advanced stage. This cancer generally affects the following organs: lungs; abdomen; and heart. When mesothelioma affects the lining of lungs, it is known as pleural mesothelioma. When it affects abdomen, the cancer is called peritoneal mesothelioma. The cancer of the lining of heart cavity is known as pericardial mesothelioma.

According to the CDC (Centre for Disease Control & Prevention), nearly 3000 mesothelioma cases are diagnosed every year. Of these, approximately 80 percent are found in men aged above 60 years.


MassDEP Issues $10000 Fines against Lawrence Contractor for Asbestos Violations

Pittsfield, MA – The state Environmental Protection Department (DEP) has issued a fine against a Lawrence firm for allegedly violating asbestos removal regulations at a Pittsfield property, located at Bartlett St, according to officials.

The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) cited MJ Environmental Incorporated for improper asbestos removal from an empty building situated at 149-153 Bartlett Street. The breaches were discovered at the time of an inspection conducted by the department officials in 2012 March.

Originally the company was assessed a fine of $24000. However, the MassDEP officials agreed to put aside $14000 on a condition that the company won’t commit any violations over the coming 2 years. According to a consent order, the company has to pay only $10000 in fines.

Michael Gorski, the director of W. Regional Office of the DEP in Springfield, said asbestos abatement contractors should be held responsible for the welfare of the public and protection of their health. The MassDEP will definitely take solid enforcement actions against contractors who violate asbestos regulations and fail to protect the health of workers as well as the general public, he said. According to Gorski, most of the asbestos contractors abide by the regulations.

Contractors or property owners with queries regarding asbestos-containing materials (ACMs), legal removal, managing, storage, packaging, transportation and disposal methods, or the existing asbestos rules can contact the concerned MassDEP regional offices for assistance. Details are also available at the website of MassDEP.

Asbestos is the generic term used for 6 different mineral formations occurring in the nature that have the common characteristic of the crystalline structure of being able to be separated into thin, long fibres. Asbestos is a toxic material and is a known carcinogen. The minerals that make up the material include chrysotile, amosite, crocidolite, actinolite, anthophyllite, and tremolite. Asbestos fibres can become airborne when it is disturbed, damaged or broken. These fibres, which are not visible to the naked eye, can be breathed in very easily. Exposure to airborne fibres of asbestos could result in a number of dangerous conditions such as lung cancer, malignant mesothelioma, pleural plaques and asbestosis.

All sorts of asbestos are hazardous if breathed in. As someone inhales asbestos fibres, he/she may develop any of the above mentioned conditions. Asbestos-related diseases do not appear immediately after the exposure. Usually they take a few decades to start showing symptoms.


Four Chatham Schools to Remove Asbestos

Chatham, Illinois – Asbestos will be removed from four school buildings in the Ball-Chatham School Dist. this summer.

According to officials, an asbestos abatement project will be performed at Ball Elementary, Glenwood Intermediate, Glenwood Middle and Chatham Elementary Schools.

According to David Murphy, the director of facilities & grounds for the school dist., the estimated cost for the asbestos abatement project is $950000.

Murphy says all the buildings were constructed in the 1970s or even earlier when asbestos was a very commonly used building material. Therefore, there is nothing surprising in the presence of asbestos in those buildings, he said. It should be removed as a part of the forthcoming roof and bathroom renovations, Murphy said.

Any building constructed before the 1980s has the possibility to have the dangerous mineral in it, Murphy said. If asbestos is present in a building, it should be removed prior to any renovation or demolition project, he said. Asbestos abatement itself is a tedious and time-consuming project which requires the service of a licensed asbestos abatement contractor, according to Murphy.

The school district will continue accepting bids for asbestos abatement until 10th April, he said. Murphy is planning to start the project on 1st June and to have it finished by the beginning of August.

The removal of asbestos will affect the bathrooms of all the 4 school buildings and a roofing work at GIS. David Murphy said the roofing abatement would cost approximately $644000. The 4 bathrooms would cost $303000 in total, he said.

Asbestos is a heat- and fire-resistant fibre popularly used in building installations. It could be present in construction materials including roofing shingles, ceiling tiles, floor tiles, cement, and insulating materials. The risk of asbestos exposure significantly increases when the material is disturbed or broken. When disturbed, asbestos releases its fibres into the environment. These fibres are easily inhalable. Asbestos exposure has been linked to terminal ailments such as malignant mesothelioma, asbestosis, pleural plaques and lung cancer. Because of such risks, asbestos is highly regulated by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA).

According to Murphy, asbestos abatement projects like these are not uncommon during school renovations because many of the schools in the United States were built prior to the 1980s and they still contain asbestos. The school district would close the areas undergoing abatement, he said. It will remain closed for everyone except the contractors until the work is finished, Murphy said.


Montgomery Contractor Charged for Alleged Clean Air Act Violations

Philadelphia, PA – A contractor from Montgomery County has been charged a few days ago for allegedly violating the Clean Air Act (CAA) concerning asbestos-linked works.

The Office of the United States Attorney for the Eastern Dist. of Pennsylvania charged Anthony Biello after he allegedly failed to notify the Division of Philadelphia City Air Management Services of the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) about the removal of materials containing asbestos from an old church in the Spring Garden section of the city. Anthony Biello, who had been living at Ambler (PA), is an Illinois resident now. He is 55 years old.

Siloam Industries, the nonprofit group which owned the historic church building, had hired D&E Solutions owned by Anthony Biello for removing the dangerous asbestos-containing materials prior to the planned demolition of the structure, media reports indicate. The church building was constructed in the mid-19th century when asbestos was a widely used building material.

The building, which was home to Church of the Assumption once, is situated at 1133 Spring Garden St.

Biello is facing a sentence of up to 5 years if proved guilty on a count of breaching the federal Clean Air Act (CAA), says Zane David Memeger, the office of the United States Attorney.

The 1970 Clean Air Act requires the United States Environmental Protection Agency to develop as well as enforce regulations for protecting the public from being exposed to airborne pollutants which are known to be health hazards.

This case was investigated by the Criminal Investigation Division of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) with the assistance of the Philadelphia City’s Air Management Services office.

Asbestos is a fibrous mineral occurring in the nature. Chrysotile asbestos or white asbestos is the most commonly used type of asbestos in structural applications. The useful features of asbestos include its strength, resistance against heat, incredible insulating properties, in addition to its low cost.

Now asbestos is a highly regulated material as it is a known carcinogen. Lung cancer, malignant mesothelioma (cancer of the lining of chest cavity), and asbestosis (fibrotic scarring of the lung tissue) are some conditions caused by asbestos exposure. Exposure to asbestos takes place when an individual: breathe in asbestos fibers; and ingest the dangerous fibers present in drinking water through the mouth. Skin contact also can be dangerous. As there is no safe asbestos exposure level, any exposure should be avoided.


Appeals Court Affirms $6.5M Verdict in Asbestos Case

Los Angeles, CA – An appeals court in California has upheld a jury verdict by a LA County Superior Court jury in an asbestos lawsuit filed on behalf of a commercial plumber.

Hon. Walter Croskey, the justice of the California 2nd Dist. Court of Appeals, delivered the opinion on 21st February, affirming the verdict of in excess of $6.5M in non-economic and $398635 in economic damages. The justice denied the request of defendant Crane Company for an additional setoff for adjusting for future settlements.

Justice Richard D Aldrich and Joan Klein concurred with Walter Croskey.

The suit was filed on behalf of deceased William Paulus, a mesothelioma victim. Other defendants had reached settlements with the plaintiff for $5150000 in total. When the court reached its judgement, it had to allocate the legal responsibility among 46 different companies. As all the other companies had reached out-of-court settlements, Crane Company was assigned 10 percent liability for the plaintiff’s damages.

The court concluded that Crane Company was negligent in causing William Paulus to develop the deadly cancer.

The suit states that Paulus was a plumber who regularly worked with Crane Company and dealt with valves and gaskets containing asbestos. Studies have found that regular exposure to asbestos and products containing the substance could result in terminal diseases such as mesothelioma.

The plaintiffs argued that Crane Company as partly responsible for the tragic death of Paulus. During the court trial, one of his colleagues testified that Paulus used Cranite and Garlock asbestos-containing products in the 1960s and 70s for hammering out flange gaskets and bonnet gaskets for keeping the valves water-tight.

William Paulus made asbestos-containing gaskets for almost all jobs he carried out and generally used Cranite more than Garlock.

As a result of his continuous occupational exposure to asbestos products, Paulus developed malignant mesothelioma, a fatal cancer of the mesothelium, according to the suit. William Paulus was not aware of the risks involved in handling asbestos products and the defendants never warned him regarding the hazards either, the plaintiffs claimed. Exposure mainly took place when he attached the valves to pipes by welding together and binding them to the flange gaskets, the suit indicates. Paulus died shortly after his mesothelioma diagnosis.

Mesothelioma is often detected several decades after the victim’s initial exposure to asbestos fibres. However, once appeared, it kills the victims typically within a year.