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Asbestos Abatement Contractor to Appeal DEQ Fines

Bend, Oregon – A Bend asbestos abatement company’s owner said on Monday that he will appeal the $4500 penalty issued by the state Environmental Quality Department alleging illegal work during a Redmond High School project early this year. He is disputing the charges and threatening that he will file a suit over any business loss.

DEQ had announced on Monday about the fines issued against Oregon-based Alpine Abatement Associates for violation of safe work practices, though there wasn’t any direct threat to the environmental and human health. According to the agency, the company did not properly wet the ceiling insulation which contained asbestos material during an abatement project on 13th February at the Redmond H.S.

If asbestos is not wetted properly at the time of removal, its fibers are likely to be released into the surroundings in containment area, DEQ said. The removal of asbestos was carried out in an entirely contained and enclosed area, according to the agency. Therefore, not faculty or students were exposed to the deadly fibers, DEQ said.

Asbestos fibres can cause serious respiratory problems and deadly diseases such as mesothelioma, asbestosis and lung cancer. Anyway, in this case, little risk was there as the work area had been sealed off and the work was done in an inaccessible containment area, DEQ said.

Jack Billings, the owner of the company, says he has been in this business for almost 25 years. He says this is just the 2nd violation cited by the DEQ. He said OSHA has never cited his company for any violations.

Mr. Billings says the DEQ was totally wrong in the case. He said he has consulted with a lawyer to challenge the citations. He said there were no ceiling insulation in the high school building and the workers were actually removing fireproofing which contained asbestos. He said the DEQ does not have any evidence to prove their allegations. They noticed some substance there which seemed to be dry, Billings says, and a few bags which appeared as not having sufficient water. However, all that was in a containment area and all of them can be wetted as they are taken out, he said.

The inspection was conducted by Frank Messina, a specialist of air quality in the DEQ office in Bend. He still maintains that asbestos had not been properly wetted in order to prevent the fibres from being airborne, although air samples didn’t show anything.

News

Asbestos Abatement Ongoing at New Haven Courthouse

New Haven, CT – Those who have walked or worked in downtown New Haven might have noticed the construction works at the Elm Street Superior Courthouse structure. The work includes abatement of asbestos from construction materials.

People who are working in the courthouse were curious to understand why they weren’t informed of the removal of asbestos if it is actually dangerous to health.

Red tape labels have been placed indicating dangerous asbestos hazard, hanging above huge trash bags. Those bags are place just a few feet away from stairs. All through the day, people use those stairs for getting in and out the superior courthouse located on Elm St.

Similar bags were also found sitting above the walkway on the Church St. side of the structure, a portion busy with walkers. “If signs were there indicating the presence of asbestos, definitely I would try my level best to avoid that area,” a resident said.

The renovation project in the New Haven courthouse is overseen by the state. The project also includes removal of some materials containing asbestos.

According to some reports, though bags have been labeled about asbestos danger, they are unseen behind a covering. Therefore, those who just pass through the area wound not notice it.

According to the health codes for asbestos removal projects, signs must be posted that meet all the specifications set out at everyone coming to the area. However, this project doesn’t fall under these guidelines. The reason is that asbestos which is getting removed there is trapped inside the other materials. It can’t be airborne. This means, it does not pose a health concern for the public. Asbestos is dangerous only if its fibers become airborne.

Asbestos consists of numerous tiny fibers that are not visible to naked eyes. These fibers become airborne when the material is deteriorated, damaged, broken or disturbed, which means the fibers of asbestos are released into the air. Anyone passes through that area could breathe in these fibers. Once breathed in, these fibers stay on the lungs for long without any damage. The problems usually start several decades after the inhalation. Asbestos fibers can cause scarring in the lungs. This condition is known as asbestosis. Asbestosis is usually terminal. The fibers can also cause development of tumors on mesothelium, the thin protective lining of the lungs. The condition is known as mesothelioma. Medical science has so far been unable to find an effective cure for mesothelioma.

News

Billionaire Gets Imprisonment for 18 Years over Asbestos Deaths

Milan, Italy – A billionaire industrialist from Switzerland, who had been convicted for his role in the biggest asbestos scandal in Italy, had his sentence extended on Monday to 18 years. Campaigners said the ruling will set the precedent for lawsuits over safety at workplace.

Stephan Schmidheiny had been proved negligent in causing 2000 or more asbestos-linked deaths. In addition to imprisonment, the appeals court, located in Turin, asked Schmidheiny to pay a huge amount in compensation to local victims, their families, and the authorities.

The previous owner of Switzerland-based construction material manufacturer Eternit was proved guilty in 2012 February. He was originally sentenced to imprisonment for 16 years and asked to pay the other damages.

Schmidheiny was not sent immediately to jail as, in Italy, prison sentences are not generally enforced as long as the appeals processes are not exhausted. This could usually take several years. Schmidheiny is 65 years old. He was not present in the court when the jury rejected the appeal filed him against the sentence. Instead, it extended the prison time on Monday.

The court also dismissed the charges against the shareholder and ex-executive of the company Jean L Marie Ghislain de Cartier de Marchienne as he passed away on 21st May when he was 91 years old.

The victims’ relatives and numerous others were present in the courthouse to hear the ruling. Some of them had banners in their hands saying “Eternit: Justice!”

Osservatorio N Amianto, the association of the victims, expressed happiness in the ruling. The association said the verdict would encourage the fight by asbestos victims and families to live in a world that does not have asbestos and the greed for profits which sacrifices human lives.

Prosecutors argued that Schmidheiny purposefully failed in installing the measures to protect the health of workers and to prevent them from being exposed to deadly asbestos fibers at the Italian plants of Eternit. Eternit was closed in year 1986.

More than 6000 individuals – including former plant employees and the residents of 4 towns where the factories were situated – are asking for damages in this case. The compensation includes 20 m euros to the Piedmont area and 31 m euros to Casale Monferrato town hall where the company had its major Italian plant.

Schmidheiny’s spokesman said they are going to take the case to the top appeals court in Italy. He said the present ruling is absurd and scandalous.

News

County to Survey Historic Buildings for Lead Paint and Asbestos

Victoria County has to evaluate 3 historic buildings for lead paint and asbestos before it can go ahead with plans for expanding the courtroom. On Tuesday, the Commissioners Court approved spending $18500 with an engineering firm called Professional Service Industries (PSI) on 3 hazardous material surveys on: Victoria County Historic Jail (210 West Constitution); historic firehouse at 209 West Forrest Street; and 1842 spa building at 103 South Glass Street. The commissioners also voted for engaging Rawley McCoy for studying the courtroom project and comparing costs.

The study by McCoy would cost a maximum of $20000.

Both the studies put Victoria County on the right track for adding space for the jam-packed judicial system in which 8 judges share 4 courtrooms.

Don Pozzi, the County Judge, says his aim is to keep the extra courtrooms also in the very same block as the 115 North Bridge Street courthouse.

As it needs high skill and care to deal with asbestos, any works involving the substance are time-consuming as well as costly. Authorized professionals are only allowed to handle asbestos.

According to the county, the jail survey would cost nearly $12000. The estimated cost for the spa survey is $4000. And, the firehouse survey is expected to cost approximately $2500.

Kevin Janak, one of the County Commissioners, said that the spa bldg. was constructed prior to the American Civil War (fought between 1861 and 1865). As the dangerous features of asbestos were not known then, it was extensively used as a construction material. For this reason, majority of the historic buildings contain asbestos. It was only in the 1980s that the use of asbestos began to be restricted and regulated. Asbestos is not banned still. However, now there are strict regulations to be followed while handling asbestos. Asbestos is a carcinogen and it can be deadly if the material is disturbed or broken. For this reason, prior to the renovation or demolition of any asbestos-containing structure, the material has to be removed safely.

According to Pozzi, the Texas State Historical Commission is asking the Victoria County for renovating the spa building. But, he says, the court would look at all possible options. Pozzi said the studies will help determine the costs for removing the dangerous materials present in the historic buildings.

The historic jail is now being used by the office of the sheriff, whereas, the maintenance department of the county is using the firehouse.

News

Woman Exposed to Asbestos through Husband’s Work Clothes Develops Malignant Mesothelioma

New Orleans, Louisiana – A woman from Greenville (MS) is suing a number of companies for allegedly contributing to her malignant mesothelioma by exposing her to dangerous fibers of asbestos.

Elizabeth G Sutherland has filed a suit against McCarty Corporation, Taylor Seidenbach, Metropolitan Life Insurance Co, Liberty Mutual Insurance Co, Eagle Inc., Arrowood Indemnity Co, Anco Insulation, and Alma Plantation on 11th March in the Central District Court in Orleans Parish.

Sutherland says she was exposed to asbestos fibres through the work clothes of her husband, who inhaled and was exposed to asbestos as well as asbestos-containing products. As a result of this exposure, she developed malignant mesothelioma, according to the suit.

The suit alleges that the companies knew the dangers of asbestos and materials containing asbestos, but failed to properly warn the petitioner and workers including her husband about the potential hazards of exposure to the mineral. The companies failed to provide workers with proper safety equipment, the suit says. The defendants also failed to set up general ventilation to create a safe working environment in the work areas, Sutherland alleges. The companies did not either warn the employees that asbestos fibres could be carried home by them through their work clothes and that could cause their family members to be secondarily exposed to the cancer-causing fibers, the lawsuit states. The companies are also being sued for manufacturing, distributing and selling products containing a known and dangerous carcinogen such as asbestos.

The plaintiff suffered physical pain, incurred huge medical costs and lost her earning capacity because of the disease, the plaintiff argues. She is seeking an unspecified amount as damages for all the sufferings.

Eric Nowak, a lawyer from New Orleans (LA)-based law firm Harrell and Nowak, is representing the plaintiff in court.

Hon. Paulette Irons, the Judge of Division M, will preside over the case.

Most of the mesothelioma cases have been found as a result of the negligence of the companies that made, sold or used asbestos and products containing the dangerous substance. They didn’t warn the workers about the hazards of asbestos and didn’t provide them with a safe working environment or safety devices such as respirators in order to prevent the toxic fibers to be inhaled. Anyone who develops asbestos-related diseases due to such negligence has the legal right to sue the responsible companies for damages.

News

Asbestos Present in 28 Sunderland Hospital Buildings

28 buildings in the city are on the Asbestos Risk Register of the city. The buildings include children’s centers and theater blocks.

However, Sunderland Royal Hospital’s bosses say the substance present in the building does not pose any hazard to the patients as it is managed properly.

According to a report, asbestos is present in the main building of the Sunderland Royal Hospital, along with the Eye Infirmary, former neonatal unit, Genitourinary Medical Center, Niall Quinn Center, and many others in the city.

Since 2011 January, Sunderland City Hospitals has expended £153,667 on the removal and maintenance of asbestos material from its structures.

“Asbestos material was extensively used in construction as well as engineering until the late 1980s. Like almost all other buildings, asbestos was used in the properties of Sunderland City Hospitals as well. The use of asbestos was not restricted or regulated then,” said a spokesman representing the Trust.

“The trust has given top priority always to the safety and health of its employees, contractors, patients and the public. It identifies its legal responsibilities and duties under the 1974 Health & Safety at Work Act as well as the 2012 Asbestos Control Regulations. It has also developed ample procedures for managing the asbestos material present in its buildings,” the spokesman said.

“Many of our hospital buildings were constructed at a time when the use of asbestos was at peak in the construction industry,” he added. Usually these structures contained lot of amosite, typically known as “brown asbestos”, and sometimes as “gray asbestos”. It is a dangerous form of the material. However, if the property is managed properly, the material does not pose any harm, he said.

It was revealed last month that how 65 percent of the city schools contained asbestos, a potentially deadly cancer causing substance. Asbestos is a mineral mined from the nature. It is made up microscopic fibers. If it is disturbed or damaged, the fibers of asbestos could be emitted into the air and inhaled easily by anyone present in the area. If significant amounts of the fibers are breathed in, that person could develop diseases such as asbestosis, malignant mesothelioma and lung cancer. The diseases usually take several decades to appear. However, most of the asbestos-related illnesses are fatal. Mesothelioma is a cancer of the protective lining of the chest and abdomen. It has no cure.

News

Woman Says Asbestos Exposure Killed Husband

A former plumber’s bereaved widow is asking the deceased man’s colleagues to come forward for helping her fight for justice.

Charles Baker, who was a heating engineer and a plumber, passed away after developing an asbestos-linked cancer in January 2012 when he was 72 years old. Doctors confirmed that he died from mesothelioma, an incurable cancer of the lungs’ lining. Mesothelioma is developed because of inhalation of asbestos fibers and dust. Baker allegedly inhaled the toxic dust while working with TA King & Son, in Sandridge Rd, St. Albans.

Baker died just 9 months after he was diagnosed with the cancer. Now his wife Mrs. Shirley Baker, is requesting the help of her husband’s former colleagues to explain how he inhaled the dangerous fibres from 1955 to 1966.

“During his job, Charles came in interaction with the dangerous mineral on a regular basis. His work was dusty and dirty. Baker told they never warned him regarding the hazardous nature of asbestos and never provided him with any sort of protective wears or mask in order to prevent him from inhaling the toxic fibers,” Mrs. Baker said.

“Charles worked with a lot of people and in so many different buildings in Hertfordshire and St Albans. I am sure that many people are there who are able to help me,” She said.

Baker has 2 grandchildren. He was residing in Lowestoft, Suffolk in 2011 when he became ill. He felt chest pains and initial tests could not find any serious issues. However, subsequent checkups confirmed that he had developed malignant mesothelioma, a deadly cancer of the mesothelium.

Following his death, Mrs. Baker consulted with some attorneys to help find out if TA King & Son could’ve done more for protecting her husband from exposure to asbestos.

The distressed widow says her husband had told her that he had been regularly exposed to asbestos during his ten-year career at TA King & Son as he had to chip off asbestos lagging using a chisel or hammer and blend asbestos paste for lagging pipes and boilers. She says he specifically recalled his works at Saint Michael’s Manor, Saint Albans Abbey, Hill End Psychiatric Hospital, and Saint Albans City Hospital.

Mesothelioma usually appears several decades after the inhalation of asbestos fibers. However, it typically kills the victim within 15 months once appeared. A permanent cure is yet to be discovered for mesothelioma.

News

Jury Returns Verdict in favor of Defendants in Asbestos Exposure Case

After a 9-week trial, a 12-0 verdict was returned by a jury in Santa Barbara favoring the defense in a case that involved claims of economic damages and bodily injuries in connection with asbestos exposure. The defendants were represented by Uyen Nguyen and Victoria Ersoff of Wood Smith Henning and Berman LLP.

Plaintiffs William Budke, Inger Budke and their children filed lawsuit against Santa Barbara Housing Authority, its Chief Executive Officer, Deputy Executive Officer, and Property and Development Director over bodily injuries, property damage, economic losses, emotional distress and loss of consortium relating to exposure to asbestos and mold in a housing community.

Inger Budke was employed as Resident Coordinator at various apartments that the defendants owned. Budke resided there with family. The plaintiffs alleged that defendant companies failed to remediate the conditions in the apt. which made it uninhabitable. The defendants didn’t properly train the maintenance workers about the remediation and identification of asbestos and mold, the suit states. The companies violated asbestos safety regulations during their remediation and maintenance works all through their properties, according to the plaintiffs.

The plaintiffs also alleged that health conditions became poor as they had to reside in an apartment that was not at all fit to live in. According to the plaintiffs, their daughters are suffering from severe allergies and asthma. The youngest daughter of the plaintiffs had severe birth injuries such as neuro-behavioral and neuro-cognitive deficits because of the dangerous conditions in their apartment, the lawsuit states.

After deliberating nearly a day, the jury decided to return a verdict in favor of the defense. They found Inger Budke, one of the plaintiffs, to be causally negligent.

Before the trial, the defendants served offers to negotiate on all the plaintiffs totaling US$54000. However, plaintiffs counsel informed the jury that she’d be asking millions of dollars in punitive and compensatory damages. Now the defendant companies can recover from claimants their lawyers’ fees and costs.

Anybody who suffers from asbestos-related health problems has the legal right to sue the responsible companies and win compensation from them. However, the plaintiff should convincingly prove that the defendant companies are really responsible for the asbestos exposure that resulted in his/her health problems. Therefore, the service of an efficient and expert attorney is vital in any case relating to health problems caused by occupational asbestos exposure.

News

WI Assembly Passes New Asbestos Lawsuit Bill

Wisconsin – The Wisconsin (WI) Assembly has passed measure on last Wednesday that critics say would adversely affect the lawsuits over asbestos exposure.

The bill would need claimants to disclose the number of businesses their lawyers plan to sue. The claimants should reveal any claims they’ve filed against trust funds of bankrupt businesses.

According to the Republicans who back the bill, such a measure would prevent attorneys from concealing multiple claims hoping for maximum awards. They say some claimants do not inform the courts they’re also seeking compensation from the trust funds of the bankrupt businesses and the judges do not have any way to assign the liability properly.

However, the opponents – including the trial lawyers – say the bill is intended to slow down the cases expecting the claimants will pass away and to protect businesses from making compensation payouts.

The bill, which passed on 58-39 vote, was proposed by Wisconsin Republican member Andre Jacque. Jacque said the measure would give more transparency to asbestos claims. It would help the jurors and the judges realize how many defendant companies might be liable for a person’s disease so that they can assign the damages fairly, Jacque said.

The bill will now move toward the Senate for approval.

According to opponents, the bill would extend trials for the victims of asbestos exposure.

Long used as an insulation and fireproofing material, asbestos can contribute several health problems and terminal diseases such as cancer. Several companies that made asbestos products have become bankrupt and established trust funds for compensating the victims. The victims have legal right to file lawsuits against the bankrupt businesses as well as the companies that are running still. The new bill would need claimants to disclose whether they’ve filed any claim against the trust funds. Once this has been done, their court trials couldn’t begin for 6 months.

Joan Claybrook, the Spokeswoman representing the Asbestos Cancer Victims Rights Campaign, said she was shocked to that the WI assembly passed such a bill which adds extra burdens for the seniors and veterans of the state who are dying from asbestos-related diseases. “Though asbestos diseases takes several decades to appear, they kill the victims usually within 18 months once appeared,” she said.

“The bill would allow asbestos firms to avoid responsibility as well as accountability at the cost of WI senior citizens and veterans. We honestly hope the Wisconsin Senate members will act appropriately to put an end to this dangerous legislation,” Claybrook said.

News

60 Companies Sued over Asbestos-related Lung Cancer

One more asbestos suit has been recently added to the fastly growing case list in the asbestos docket of St. Clair County.

Neda Mays, as the special administrator of John Mays’ estate, filed a lawsuit over asbestos exposure in the Saint Clair Circuit Court. The plaintiff doesn’t mention where she is residing.

The plaintiff will be represented by Barry Julian and Randy L Gori of Edwardsville law firm Gori, Julian & Associates.

Neda Mays filed her complaint on 4th April, 2013, in which she sues 60 companies over an asbestos-related lung cancer. The suit states that the companies caused John Mays to develop a fatal lung cancer. According to the plaintiff, John Mays developed the disease as a result of his regular exposure to various asbestos-containing products of the defendant companies all through his employment.

John Mays has done different jobs in his career. He was a bulldozer driver with Job Corps Cooking between 1963 and 1965. Between 1965 and 1967, he worked as a flooring maker. Then he became a wood paneling maker with Evans Products and continued the job until 1969. Finally, between 1969 and 1991, Mays worked as a chemical blender and operator with Humko Chemical, the lawsuit states. He was exposed to asbestos fibers during all these jobs. Additionally, Mays was secondarily exposed to the cancer causing fibers through the work clothes of his dad who had worked as a laborer with Nikki Brothers, according to the suit.

The defendants knew or should’ve known regarding the harmful features of asbestos mineral, but did not exercise proper caution and care for the safety of John Mays and his co-workers and their family members, the lawsuit states.

Because of his devastating asbestos-related health issues, John Mays became disfigured and disabled, incurred huge medical expenses and suffered immense mental anguish and physical pain, according to the suit. Additionally, John Mayes became prevented from continuing his normal employment course, and thus lost huge amounts of money which would’ve otherwise accrued to him, according the suit.

In the 10-count lawsuit, the plaintiff is asking for a judgment of $150000 or more, financial damages of $200000 or more, punitive & exemplary damages of $50000 or more, compensatory damages in excess of $100000. Neda is also seeking unspecified punitive damages, costs and other relief to which she might be entitled.