Yvonne Stanley began working in the Miami-Dade courthouse back in 1994, and at that time the secretary had no way of knowing that the building was contaminated with asbestos and would lead to her Stage II lung cancer. But according to records, the building, which was built in 1928 when asbestos was a common component in construction materials, has long been known to be a “hazardous” work environment. The long-time employee has filed a lawsuit against the county, saying that her illness was a direct result of exposure to asbestos in the workplace.
Yvonne Stanley’s diagnosis with asbestos-related lung cancer is far from the first illness that has been blamed on the contaminated environment in the building. In 2011, Judge Cheryl Aleman died of malignant mesothelioma, a condition that is specifically caused by exposure to asbestos. Her death prompted three other judges to move their chambers and request environmental testing of her specific courtroom. In 2013 asbestos was identified as being present in the air in the courthouse and remediation work was ordered, though it is unclear as to when it was completed, or whether it actually was. Of specific concern is evidence that no air quality inspections had been done in the building since 1988, despite the fact that there had been numerous previous complaints. The problem was of such concern that many floors were closed down and attorneys were asked or opted to work from their homes rather than risk exposure to the carcinogenic material.
Ms. Stanley’s health has suffered as a result of her illness. She has had to undergo the removal of one of her lungs and is currently undergoing chemotherapy. Judge Jennifer Bailey said that an investment needs to be made in building a new courthouse. She told the Miami Herald that the problem is putting all employees health at risk, saying, “Every day this decision is delayed there are more taxpayer dollars that are going into a courthouse that is too small, technologically inadequate, and it’s making people sick.”
Exposure to asbestos puts people at risk for mesothelioma, asbestos-related lung cancer and other deadly diseases. If you or someone you love has been a victim, we can help. Call us at 1-800-966-2244.