One case of mesothelioma is proving to be an example of what new generation asbestos lawsuits are looking like.
In one case, the plaintiff suffered from chest pain, traveled nationwide for major surgery, underwent chemotherapy, had to manage debilitating pain, and was dealing with a lawsuit that had not been finalized at the time of his death, according to The Wall Street Journal. His attorneys are suing an array of firms they believe exposed the now-deceased plaintiff to asbestos at some point during his life.
The plaintiff was never a steelworker or shipbuilder, two fields in which large amounts of asbestos were used, exposing scores of people to the deadly toxin that leads to mesothelioma, explained The Journal. Asbestos is a fibrous material that was used in a broad array of building materials through the 1970s in the United States. Environmental regulations finally banned asbestos use in most industrial and residential applications; however, asbestos can be found in older buildings.
When airborne, asbestos fibers can be easily ingested or inhaled and, once inhaled, asbestos fibers can wreak havoc on a person’s health, causing breathing problems that become more difficult to treat over time. Exposure to prolonged or high levels of asbestos can lead to various forms of lung cancer, including mesothelioma, a cancer of the pleura in the lungs and a condition that affects thousands of people who worked in industrial settings for years where asbestos was frequently used.
Mesothelioma’s effects cannot be reversed and symptoms could take between 10 and 40 years after exposure to develop. A person’s risk factor is more significant the longer the exposure to asbestos and only a few months of exposure could significantly raise a person’s risk for this deadly disease.
Early signs of potential adverse effects related to asbestos exposure include shortness of breath, feeling tired, or a dry cough. As the disease progresses, coughs can become persistent and worsen. Chest pain and frequent lung infections are also hallmark symptoms of possible lung cancers like mesothelioma caused by exposure to asbestos.
It seems that home do-it-yourself projects, not steel and ship builder work, might be to blame in some of the new mesothelioma cases being seen. In fact, according to The Journal, a review of asbestos filings in a Philadelphia court revealed that 49 percent of mesothelioma claims filed between 2006 and 2010 were brought by plaintiffs who cited exposure from do-it-yourself construction projects or so-called “shade-tree” mechanic work in addition to industrial exposures. The number of plaintiffs citing similar issues is a significant rise from the three percent seen between 1991 and 2000, according to The Journal.
This plaintiff in this case believed he probably inhaled the fatal asbestos fibers decades ago when he worked in a greenhouse and during some home-improvement projects. About 29 companies, including paint and flooring manufacturers and boiler companies, have been held responsible for the man’s illness, according to The Journal. The plaintiff and his family worked with their attorney, providing family photos that showed rusty paint cans, cement bags, and insulation that led back to firms that have since filed for bankruptcy, but did set up bankruptcy trusts. The family also talked about the doctor and his brother, who died of mesothelioma in 1999, having had worked in a greenhouse. The brothers, according to The Journal, were in charge of cleaning the facilities boiler flue, which was manufactured by Kewanee. Kewanee boilers allegedly contained asbestos. The plaintiff’s recollections added to the growing list of defendants, including CertainTeed Corp., a company that made siding his father used on a farmhouse that the plaintiff scraped and painted over after the paint had flaked.
Since the plaintiff’s death, settlement checks continue to come in and offers of settlement continue. One trial is scheduled for November, wrote The Journal.
Significantly, even if a person hadn’t been directly exposed to asbestos, a related disease could be acquired by simply being near a person who has been exposed. Family members of many workers exposed to asbestos have, over the years, developed many of the same symptoms and also face similar risks caused by asbestos exposure.