Asbestos Exposure at Zidell Dismantling and St. Regis Paper Mill in Tacoma
Asbestos exposure poses a significant health risk to individuals, often leading to devastating diseases such as mesothelioma. In Pierce County, Washington, the cases of Dennis Woodruff and another individual at Zidell Dismantling and St. Regis Paper Mill highlight the tragic consequences of asbestos exposure. This article, featured on the Bergman Oslund Udo Little law firm website, explores the asbestos exposure incidents at these locations and the legal victories achieved by the firm, including notable case results. We also delve into the background of asbestos-related diseases, emphasizing the importance of raising awareness and seeking justice for affected individuals.
Asbestos Exposure at Zidell Dismantling
In a landmark case, Dennis Woodruff, a 75-year-old Tacoma resident suffering from terminal mesothelioma, was awarded $11.2 million by a unanimous Pierce County jury. Working as a laborer at Zidell Dismantling’s sister company, which dismantled World War II Navy ships at the Port of Tacoma between 1970 and 1973, Woodruff was repeatedly exposed to hazardous levels of asbestos. The jury found Zidell Explorations, the Portland-based sister corporation, negligent and responsible for causing Woodruff’s cancer. The Port of Tacoma, although found negligent, did not cause the injury. As a result, Zidell Explorations alone is liable for the awarded amount.
During his time at Zidell Dismantling, Woodruff worked extensively on and off ships, without wearing respiratory protection. Unbeknownst to him, the insulation ripped off during the ship dismantling process contained asbestos. Witnesses from the same time period described the incredibly dusty and dirty conditions caused by the dismantling process. The jury concluded that Zidell Explorations failed to warn or protect Woodruff from asbestos hazards, leading to his disease.
Asbestos Exposure at St. Regis Pulp & Paper Mill
Paper mill workers were often exposed to asbestos and other toxic materials, especially in the 1960s and 1970s. This was due to the use of asbestos in equipment and building materials, such as dryer felts, gaskets, adhesives, talc, and sandpaper backings. The asbestos dust released during routine maintenance could lodge in workers’ lungs and cause lung diseases and cancers like mesothelioma, esophageal cancer, and colorectal cancer.
Since the process of pulping and processing paper requires a high amount of heat, asbestos was commonly used to insulate machinery, pipes, and other equipment. Alongside insulation, asbestos was used to mitigate the risk of fires through the use of asbestos building materials such as roofing shingles, wall panels, and flooring.
Legal Victories and Case Results
Bergman Oslund Udo Little, represented by trial attorneys Chandler Udo and Justin Olson, played a pivotal role in achieving justice for Dennis Woodruff and another individual affected by mesothelioma. In Woodruff’s case, the $11.2 million verdict stands as one of the highest jury awards in Washington state history for asbestos-related lawsuits. The trial, which began in June and concluded with the verdict on August 5, showcased the determination of the legal team in holding Zidell Explorations accountable.
In addition to Woodruff’s case, Bergman Oslund Udo Little obtained a $4.6 million verdict for a 63-year-old man diagnosed with mesothelioma. This individual had been exposed to asbestos while working as an electrician at St. Regis Paper Mill in Tacoma and the Lockheed shipyard in Seattle. The verdict serves as another testament to the law firm’s commitment to fighting for the rights of asbestos exposure victims.
Understanding Asbestos-Related Diseases
Asbestos, a group of naturally occurring minerals, was widely used until the 1970s due to its heat resistance and other beneficial properties. However, prolonged exposure to asbestos fibers can lead to diseases such as mesothelioma. Mesothelioma is a relatively rare form of cancer that develops in the lining of the lungs (pleura) when asbestos fibers become embedded. It typically manifests 30 to 50 years after exposure and is primarily caused by asbestos inhalation.
Mesothelioma is not limited to those directly working with asbestos products. Individuals in the vicinity of asbestos-related work, including family members exposed to asbestos dust carried on work clothes, are also at risk. Sadly, there is currently no cure for mesothelioma, and most victims succumb to the disease within six to eighteen months of diagnosis.
Importance of Seeking Justice and Raising Awareness
The cases at Zidell Dismantling and St. Regis Paper Mill shed light on the prevalence of asbestos-related diseases in Washington state. With the fourth highest rate of mesothelioma in the country, the state’s shipbuilding, aluminum, and wood processing industries have contributed to a high proportion of affected individuals. It is crucial to raise awareness about asbestos exposure risks, particularly among workers and their families who may unknowingly face this danger.
Seeking justice through legal avenues is essential to holding responsible parties accountable for their negligence. The victories achieved by Bergman Oslund Udo Little in the cases of Dennis Woodruff and the electrician from St. Regis Paper Mill demonstrate the significance of legal representation for asbestos exposure victims. These results not only provide financial compensation but also serve as a means of raising awareness and promoting stricter safety measures to prevent future incidents.
The cases of asbestos exposure at Zidell Dismantling and St. Regis Paper Mill in Tacoma, Pierce County, exemplify the devastating consequences of negligence in handling asbestos. Through their diligent legal representation, Bergman Oslund Udo Little secured substantial verdicts for mesothelioma victims, including the groundbreaking $11.2 million awarded to Dennis Woodruff. These outcomes underscore the importance of fighting for justice and spreading awareness about the risks associated with asbestos exposure. By seeking accountability, we can strive for a safer future and support those affected by asbestos-related diseases.
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