In March of 2013, three men were convicted for violations of federal law after they used 80 high school students to remove asbestos from a building at a former air force base.
Although federal law requires the use of safety equipment, (including respirators) and trained asbestos removal workers, the men used untrained high school students provided only with hard hats, goggles, and cotton masks. These high school students now stand at risk of developing a number of asbestos-related illnesses, including asbestosis, mesothelioma, and lung cancer.
These high school students now stand at risk of developing a number of asbestos-related illnesses, including asbestosis, mesothelioma, and lung cancer.
Asbestos is dangerous when handled without the proper safety equipment, because it is made up of tiny needle-like fibers which can easily be inhaled. These fibers cause inflammation in the body, in some cases leading to deadly cancers.
In some circumstances, prolonged workplace asbestos exposure causes an incurable chronic health condition known as asbestosis, a thickening of the lungs leading to shortness of breath, chest pain, and decreased quality of life.
Asbestosis sufferers are predisposed to later develop heart disease and lung cancer. The latency period for asbestosis is typically 10 to 20 years following exposure, while cancers such as mesothelioma and lung cancer may take as many as fifty or more years to appear.
Asbestos Abuse and Civil Liability
In addition to criminal liability, people and companies who undertake asbestos removal without protecting their workers and informing them of the risks open themselves up to serious civil lawsuits. Although in this situation the perpetrators may be judgment proof, civil settlements and verdicts for single asbestos victims often total in the millions. In this case, with so many young students placed at risk, the potential liability could be astronomical.
Although the men who oversaw the project placed the students directly at risk, the original manufacturers of the asbestos-containing products may also be held accountable. Because of the long latency period for asbestos-related illnesses, the threat of lawsuits stemming from this incident will loom for five or more decades.
Asbestos Exposure Victims: Legal Help is Available
Although modern cases like this one are unusual, such unsafe workplace practices were all too common prior to the 1980s. The legal system has held companies responsible for their failure to protect and warn the public from the dangers of asbestos exposure. If you or a loved one suffers from mesothelioma, you may be eligible for legal compensation.
Call an experienced, reputable mesothelioma litigation law firm today, to discuss your options. The only firm in the Pacific Northwest devoted exclusively to serving mesothelioma victims, Bergman Draper Oslund is here for you. Call us today, for a no-cost, no-obligation consultation.