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Month: May 2014

News

Idaho Contractor Fined for Asbestos Violations

An Idaho firm has been issued a fine of $100000 for allegedly violating an environmental response regulation.

Boise (Idaho)-based Owyhee Construction Inc. was sentenced to probation for 3 years and issued a fine of $100000. In addition, the company was ordered to put a compliance & ethics program into practice. Owyhee Construction was also pay restitution for allegedly failing to dispose of hazardous asbestos properly. Two employees of the company had previously been sentenced to imprisonment in connection with related offenses, said Wendy Olsen, the United States Attorney.

Owyhee Construction was the successful bidder on the $3M Orofino waterline renovation project. The company had then been warned that there could be nearly 5000 linear ft of asbestos-covered pipes. The company’s onside manager did not oversee the renovation work properly and, as a result, asbestos-laden pipes became fill materials on sixteen properties in and near Orofino.

The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) cleanup work cost nearly $3980000. Owyhee Construction Inc has been asked to restitute the EPA after the settlement of a civil lawsuit which is ongoing currently.

Illegal removal of asbestos has become a prevalent issue now-a-days. In an effort to save money and time, several contractors across the United States disregard the regulations concerning the legal and safe methods to deal with asbestos. Asbestos is a material which is highly regulated by government agencies such as Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). According to the EPA, there is no safe level of asbestos exposure. This means exposure to asbestos even in lower levels can be very dangerous and could result in diseases like lung cancer, asbestosis, pleural plaques and malignant mesothelioma. Even indirect (secondhand) exposure to asbestos can be fatal. Secondhand exposure takes place when a worker carries asbestos dust and fibers home through his overalls and any of his family members come into touch with them.

Asbesots is a mineral that was used extensively until the 1980s as a construction material. Many other industries also used asbestos abundantly because of its low cost and its properties like strength, durability, resistance against heat, flame, fire and electricity. The hazards of asbestos, such as it can cause fatal medical conditions like cancer, became fully known in the 1980s and agencies like the EPA and the OSHA started regulating the material. Violation of asbestos regulations could result in hefty fines and imprisonment.

News

Appeals Court Favors Defendants in Secondhand Asbestos Exposure Case

Philadelphia, PA – An appellate court in Pennsylvania has affirmed that an ex-refinery worker could not provide sufficient proof to demonstrate that his deceased wife’s mesothelioma was caused by her exposure to asbestos fibers from the products of the defendants.

Superior Court Judge Hon. Eugene Strassburger affirmed the decision made by a lower court to grant summary judgement to 2 defendant corporations in a secondhand asbestos exposure lawsuit. Strassburger delivered his opinion on 24th April.

Strassburger said the trial court was correct in deciding that the plaintiff failed to show sufficient evidence to prove that his wife contracted malignant mesothelioma because of his work with and around the products of the defendants.

Secondhand exposure to takes place when a worker carries the microscopic fibers of asbestos home through his overalls. Family members of asbestos workers could be exposed to the carcinogenic fibers when they wash these work clothes. Studies have proved that even secondhand exposure to asbestos fibers could result in the development of asbestos-related diseases like malignant mesothelioma, asbestosis and lung cancer.

Allen Groover appealed 2 orders issued in 2013 January to grant summary judgement for defendant companies Spirax Sarco Incorporated and CBS Corp (Westinghouse). The appeal, on behalf of Groover’s deceased wife Mrs. Cheryl Groover, was filed in the Common Pleas Court of Philadelphia Civil Division.

It was in 2011 September that Groover filed his original lawsuit against a number of companies. According to this lawsuit, Mrs. Cheryl Groover died after developing malignant mesothelioma in 2010 October.

Groover had been working at a refinery in Marcus Hook between 1973 and 2010. He says he had been exposed regularly to asbestos during his job while dealing with the steam traps of Sarco and turbines of Westinghouse. According to Groover, asbestos dust and fibers attached to his overalls during his job. These fibers were carried home and Mrs. Groover exposed to them on a regular basis while laundering the work clothing, the suit states. As a result of this, Cheryl Groover developed malignant mesothelioma, an incurable cancer, Mr. Groover alleged.

Sarco and Westinghouse filed motions for summary judgement in 2012 November, which was granted in 2013 January. Groover was appealing this summary judgement.

Both direct and secondhand exposures to asbestos fibers are dangerous and could result in fatal medical conditions such as lung cancer, asbestosis and mesothelioma. Responsible companies could be punished if the liability is proven successfully.

News

Widow Sues Companies over Shipyard Worker’s Mesothelioma Death

Gretna, Louisiana – A former shipyard employee’s widow is suing a number of defendant businesses she believes are legally responsible for exposing her husband to toxic asbesots fibers during his employment. The plaintiff’s husband died from malignant mesothelioma, a very rare but incurable form of lung cancer.

Janet Wusthoff has filed a lawsuit on behalf of her deceased husband Charles Wusthoff. The suit, which was filed in the twenty-fourth Judicial District Court on 17th April, names Northrop Grumman Ship Systems Incorporated, Reilly Benton Company Incorporated, Avondale Industries Incorporated, Taylor-Seidenbach Incorporated, Mccarty Corp, Eagle Incorporated, Eagle Asbestos & Packing Company Incorporated, Mccarty Corp, Onebeacon America Insurance Co, Commercial Union Insurance Co, and Onebeacon Insurance Co as defendants.

After the death of her husband, it was proven that his condition was in fact a direct and proximate result of his occupational exposure to asbestos fibers and dust, Janet Wusthoff claims. Her husband Charles Wusthoff passed away on 24th July, 2013, according to the suit. The plaintiff states that her hubby had been employed at the shipyard of Avondale Industries located at 5100 River Rd in Avondale. He had been working as a painter of the boiler room in the 1970s, the suit states. All through his employment, Charles Wusthoff was continuously exposed to hazardous asbestos and products containing the dangerous mineral in inadequately ventilated quarters, the plaintiff claims. Janet Wusthoff alleges that her husband or other workers had not been give any sort of protective equipment, such as respirators, while working in an extremely dangerous environment. As a result of this, he inhaled plenty of asbestos dust and fibers on a regular basis during his employment, according to the suit. Consequently, he was diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma after several decades. The disease eventually killed him in 2013 July, Janet Wusthoff claims.

Mesothelioma is an asbestos-related cancer which has no cure.

The defendant companies are accused of general negligence, strict products liability and wrongful death.

Janet Wusthoff is asking for an unspecified amount in damages for physical pain, mental anguish, medical costs, funeral costs, burial costs, loss of life quality, physical disfigurement, economic loss, emotional distress, loss of companionship, loss of society, loss of affection, love and care, court costs, interest, and attorney’s fees.

A New Orleans (LA) law firm will represent Ms. Wusthoff in this case.

Hon. June B Darensburg, the division ‘C’ judge, will preside over this case.

News

Mary Ingles Elementary Removes Asbestos

Kanawha County, West Virginia – Asbestos, a notorious mineral known to cause a deadly cancer called malignant mesothelioma, was removed from the boiler room of Mary Ingles Elementary School during the previous weakened.

Parents became worried when they saw signs of asbestos at the elementary last week. They say they are wondering why the officials failed to inform them regarding the presence of asbestos. In fact they came to know regarding the removal of asbestos from their kids.

Melissa Wilfong, the principal of the elementary, said asbestos had been removed from the school’s boiler room. She said the boiler room is not attached to the school building. Since the removal of asbestos, the school has been informed that the building was safe for the students to come back, Wilfong said. She said their foremost priority was the safety of their students.

Wilfong says they have been assured that all are safe. An air sampling test was carried out last Friday which came back negative for the presence of asbestos, she said.

According to Wilfong, the school has air scrubbers as well, for cleaning the environment.

The elementary has observed its share of hazardous toxins. Mold had been removed from the ceiling and walls of the classrooms. The relief for parents was that the school building will have an important facelift at the time of summer.

Mr. James, whose niece is attending the elementary school, says it is not about the time the issues are fixed. He said he hopes the school gets everything done for the sake of their kids. Such things should not happen once again, he said.

Wilfong assured the parents that the school building is absolutely safe. She said she would like to remind everyone that they have a number of things ongoing then, but it would be really worth the wait as they begin the year.

Apart from the removal of mold and asbestos, a new roof and ceiling are going to be installed. Additionally, electrical systems, sprinkler systems and light fixtures are going to be replaced. Pipes containing asbestos will be eliminated as well.

The estimated cost of all these works is at least $155000. The school board agreed last month that these issues needed to be resolved prior to the beginning of the next school year.

The presence of asbestos is a major problem with most of the old school buildings, which were constructed prior to the 1980s, in the United States.

News

Asbestos Delays Airport Expansion Project

Removing asbesots-containing substances found during the expansion of the Charleston International Airport would cost approximately $670000 and would delay the expected completion of the project by more than a month to 2015 September, officials said.

Matt McCoy, of Michael Baker Incorporated, said to an airport committee on Monday that the expense will chew into the amount reserved for unanticipated costs during the 2.5-year project. $11.2 million has been set aside for any unexpected costs.

Until now, nearly $1.85M of the emergency fund has been utilized.

Paul Campbell, the Airports Director, said the expense of asbestos removal was a bit more than what he would’ve liked. However, it is substantially less than what it could’ve been, he said.

It was in January that asbestos was discovered. The initial estimation was that it would delay the construction work by 77 days, Campbell said.

Asbestos exposure is linked to fatal conditions like lung cancer and malignant mesothelioma. The hazardous mineral was found in the terminal building’s front wall and behind the outer walls of the Concourse A. The front wall where asbestos was found is now being ripped away and will be replaced using glass for allowing additional light. The other asbestos-containing walls will be the part of an extended 2-story area for housing consolidated security checkpoints as well as administrative offices. Now the terminal building is in the midst of a makeover worth $189 million. Construction was initially set to be finished by 2015 August.

When the cancer-causing mineral was found originally, the areas housing it were contained by the crews. Airport officials said visitors and air travelers weren’t affected ever as the tainted walls were barricaded with provisional walls already and were not in the public areas.

McCoy said they were very optimistic that the material did not cause any harm.

Asbestos, a naturally occurring mineral with many useful and some dangerous properties, was found in a tar-like material used for installing vapor barriers or waterproofing products. It was hidden behind bricked-up walls.

A good part of the asbestos removal has been completed. However, more work is pending as tearing down and renovation begins behind the ticket counters of the airline for making a way to the new 8-line security checkpoint are which is under construction.

Asbestos removal is a tedious as well as expensive process which requires the service of a licensed asbestos abatement contractor.

News

Wrongful Death Lawsuit Claims Secondhand Asbestos Exposure

New Orleans, Louisiana – A Louisiana federal court has retained the jurisdiction in the secondary asbestos exposure lawsuit filed by a woman, claiming that it is capable of dealing with the complex state law questions and dismissing the request to remand.

Hon. Carl Barbier, a judge of the U.S. Dist. Court for the Eastern Dist. of Louisiana in New Orleans filed the order on 24th April, declining the remand request.

The suit was originally filed more than 4 years ago by Sally G Vedros, who passed away from malignant mesothelioma which she allegedly developed because of her secondhand exposure to asbestos fibers. Following her death, Vedros’ children became parties in this case by joining the lawsuit as plaintiffs.

The plaintiffs allege that Alton Gros, the father of Vedros, worked with Avondale between 1943 and 1976 as a welder. Vedros claimed that she spent a number of years washing the work clothes of her father, allegedly causing her suffer secondhand exposure to hazardous asbestos fibers.

Additionally, Vedros herself had worked with Avondale between 1960 and 63 in the company’s purchase department. According to Vedros, she was directly exposed to the toxic fibers of asbestos while working there.

The defendant companies manufactured, marketed, supplied, distributed, sold, installed or used a number of products containing asbestos, according to the plaintiffs. Vedros says the defendants never warned her or her husband regarding the dangerous nature of their products during their employment. The companies were aware that regular exposure to asbestos fibres, and even secondhand exposure, could result in fatal diseases like mesothelioma and lung cancer. But they fraudulently concealed that information from workers, according to the suit. Neither Vedros nor her husband knew that occupational exposure and secondary exposure to asbestos are linked to terminal conditions like cancer. The companies also failed to provide the workers with face masks or respirators to prevent the employees from breathing in asbestos dust and fibers, according to Vedros.

Even secondary exposure – which means the exposure to asbestos fibers through the overalls of workers – could result in conditions like asbestosis, mesothelioma, pleural plaques and lung cancer.

Vedros had named numerous companies as defendants in the suit. Foster-Wheeler, General Electric, and Westinghouse removed this case to the federal court. In 2011 August, the lawsuit was shifted to the U.S. Dist. Court for the Eastern Dist. of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia as part of the MDL.

News

Widow’s Asbestos Case Settled Out-of-court

Philadelphia, PA – Two weeks following an attorney representing a mesothelioma victim’s widow sought to go ahead with her punitive damages claim on his client’s behalf in spite of a change in rule which deferred that types of claims in asbestos-related actions, an out-of-court settlement has been reached.

The attorney has filed a motion on 17th April at the Common Pleas Court in Philadelphia (PA) requesting the court specially vacate the General Regulation Number 2013-01 with regard to the deferral of the claims of punitive damages in the case and grant the filing of those claims and backing evidence to the federal jury. On 29th April, according to the court records, the issue had been successfully settled. The settlement amount is not known.

The plaintiff in this case was Ms. Rosemary Checho, the wife of deceased Thomas Checho. Mr. Checho died in 2012 September shortly after he was diagnosed by his doctors with pleural mesothelioma. Pleural mesothelioma is a deadly form of cancer which affects the pleura, the membrane that lines the thoracic cavity (parietal pleura) and covers the lungs (visceral pleura).

According to the plaintiff, her husband developed the deadly asbestos-linked cancer because of his exposure to hazardous asbestos dust and fibers for almost 35 years while working as hot metal typesetting machine operator.

The plaintiff’s attorney said Checho would introduce elicit testimony and evidence which could have shown wanton, willful and reckless conduct of the defendants, especially the companies linked to the typesetting machines with which Mr. Checho worked for more than three decades. The attorney stated that preventing his client from presenting the punitive damages claim of the decedent to the court would be a breach of her legal rights.

Those who have worked with and around the hot metal typesetting machines are at the risk of developing dangerous asbesots-related diseases. The machine eliminated the requirement of manual typesetting and was extensively used by newspaper companies and book companies. A report says at least 100000 such machines had been sold until year 1954.

As the machine used metal parts and created a high degree of heat, the makers of the machine had to insulate the parts effectively. Asbestos was very popular those days as an insulating material due to its excellent resistance against heat and fire. So asbestos was placed between the parts of the machine for reducing the risk of fire and overheating.

News

Auto Mechanic Develops Asbestos-related Lung Cancer

A man is suing a number of companies over allegations that he developed deadly lung cancer because of his regular exposure to the defendant’s products which contained asbestos.

Ronald Gatewood, who had been working as an auto mechanic, has filed a lawsuit on 29th April in the circuit court of Cook County. The suit names against companies including A W Chesterton Company, H B Fuller Company, and Crane Company as defendants. Dozens of other businesses also have been named as defendants in this case. The plaintiff says the companies are legally responsible for his present condition.

According to the suit, Gatewood was continuously exposed to hazardous dust and fibers of asbestos during his job between 1954 and 1982. During his employment, the plaintiff was exposed to the dangerous mineral through various products made, designed, distributed, supplied, installed or used by the defendant businesses. He had been working as an auto mechanic and various other capacities. Because of his occupational exposure to asbestos fibres, Gatewood developed lung cancer, the suit states.

The defendant companies failed to warn workers such as Greenwood regarding the deadly features of asbestos and the risks involved in working with and around asbestos products, the suit says. While working around numerous asbestos-containing products, the plaintiff was not at all aware of their hazardous nature and the consequences of asbestos exposure. The defendants never provided Greenwood with any sort of protective equipment, the suit states. They did not either warn him regarding the dangers of asbestos exposure, such as inhalation of asbestos fibres could result in terminal diseases like lung cancer, asbestosis and mesothelioma.

Greenwood accuses the defendant companies of making, distributing, selling, or using products containing a known carcinogen, even though they were fully aware of the hazards of asbesots exposure. He is seeking compensatory damages for his physical pain, mental pain, emotional anguish, loss of earning capacity, lost revenues, medical costs, court costs, and attorneys’ fees. An Illinois law firm will be representing the plaintiff.

Working with products containing asbesots is the main risk factor for industrial diseases like malignant mesothelioma, asbestosis and lung cancer. Though asbestos is still used in certain products, its use became highly restricted after 1989 as the link between the material and cancer became clear. Floor tiles, soundproofing, gaskets, fireproof gloves, patching compounds, covers of ironing board, brake pads, and clutches are some asbestos-containing products.

News

DoL Fines Corrections Department for Asbestos Violations

Washington – The Department of Corrections (DoC) in Washington has closed down a very old program staffed by the inmates for removing dangerous asbestos material from various prison facilities.

The state Department of Labor (DoL) originally issued a $141,000 fine against the DoC after finding that the inmate workers had been exposed to toxic dust and fibers of asbestos. However, later the department reduced the penalty to $70500 as per a settlement.

According to the DoC, the program’s closure was not at all related to the penalties issued by the labor department.

The labor department found that the department of corrections allowed the inmate workers to sweep floor tiles containing dangerous asbestos at the time of a project at Washington Corrections Centre for Women (WCCW). Several other violations were also found, such as the DoC failed to enforce the use of protective equipment like respirators while sweeping asbestos-containing tiles.

Asbestos is a very dangerous mineral which is known to cause fatal diseases including lung cancer and malignant mesothelioma. Individuals with a history of long-term exposure to asbestos are especially at the risk of developing such deadly asbestos-related conditions.

Elaine Fischer, of the Labor & Industries Department, said 5 of the cited violations were willful, which means the DoC knew or should’ve known regarding the associated hazards, but disregarded them and allowed workers to work with and around a known carcinogen without taking sufficient safety precautions and without providing the workers with enough protective apparel, according to Fischer.

Fischer said the likelihood of asbestos exposure was present all the time. The consequences of asbestos exposure and inhalation of asbestos fibres are huge. Fischer says none knows whether or not anyone has been exposed. In general, people might not understand the seriousness of asbestos exposure but they could develop fatal asbestos-related conditions like malignant mesothelioma after 3 or 4 decades, he said.

The Department of Corrections pleaded no guilt under a settlement. The department challenged the discovery that inmates or employees were in fact exposed to toxic dust.

In a recent statement, the Department of Corrections said it regrets the issue. The state regulations were not properly followed during asbestos handling, the DoC said.

Under the settlement, the DoC has to train nearly 1000 employees in the safe and legal ways to deal with asbestos. The DoC is required to by further safety equipment, such as respirators, as well.