Federal charges were filed this past Monday against a real estate developer who stands accused of putting his own employees and others at risk for malignant mesothelioma. The case involves the George Westinghouse Research and Technology Park in Western Pennsylvania, which was purchased by 47-year-old Vikas Jain. Jain bought the one million square foot property with the intention of transforming the former testing and laboratory space into residential and commercial properties, and following that purchase he committed myriad asbestos violations.
Asbestos is a mineral that was widely used in the first half of the 20th century in the construction of most buildings, as well as in other applications, but after it was established that it causes malignant mesothelioma and other serious illnesses, its use was discontinued. Despite the existence of numerous laws and regulations regarding the handling and disposal of asbestos, Jain is charged with ordering workers to remove the asbestos, despite them having no understanding, training or credentials in the handling of the toxic material. In announcing the charges against Jain, United States Attorney Scott W. Brady said that the violations of the Clean Air Act cited in their federal charge represent the largest asbestos removal case in the history of Allegheny County.
Included in the details of the case are a Health Department report that alludes to the risk of mesothelioma that followed Jain having equipped his employees with grinders to grind up the asbestos, as well as orders to bag the carcinogenic material without protection or proper procedures. The workers dismantled hundreds of thousands of feet of asbestos-contaminated materials, then improperly dumping the trash bags filled with the toxin into open dumpsters and dropped off at a local landfill instead of a dedicated asbestos-contamination waste site. The charges against Jain carry a maximum fine of $250,000, a maximum sentence of five years in prison, or both.
Workers like those in this case face a real risk of being diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma in the future, and the same is true of many who worked with asbestos-contaminated products. If you have been diagnosed with an asbestos-related disease and need information about your rights, contact us today at 1-800-966-2244.