Asbestos use in shipyards decades ago leads to mesothelioma today

A gavel and a justice scale

Mesothelioma is a type of cancer that can affect people in the Pacific Northwest like other forms of cancer. However, mesothelioma is unique in several respects. One way mesothelioma is unique, is that it is almost always caused by asbestos exposure. Another way mesothelioma differs from other types of cancers, is that it is a latent disease. This means that the cancer does not form until decades after people were exposed to asbestos.

Asbestos was frequently used in ship repair and ship construction industry. Many shipyard workers who were exposed to asbestos decades ago are being diagnosed with mesothelioma now. Companies began to use asbestos-containing products because it provided good heat insulation and is fireproof.

This meant that asbestos-containing products were widely used onboard ships constructed and repaired at shipyards including Naval ships and commercial vessels. Asbestos products used historically in shipyards included asbestos containing pipe insulation, asbestos refractory cements, and asbestos containing gaskets and packing. Asbestos products were used on boilers, pipes, pumps, turbines, and other parts of ships. Many shipyard trades such as insulators, pipefitters, shipfitters, sheet metal workers, boilermakers, and electricians were exposed to asbestos.

There were several shipyards in the Pacific Northwest where asbestos products were used including Puget Sound Naval Shipyard in Bremerton, Washington, Todd and Lockheed Shipyards on Harbor Island in Seattle, Washington, and Zidell Dismantling in Tacoma, Washington.

Lack of asbestos warnings harmed many workers

Considering how long it takes for mesothelioma to form after exposure to asbestos, many of the people working in shipyards during that time frame are developing mesothelioma now. Many companies who manufactured and sold asbestos-containing products knew or should have known of the hazards of asbestos but failed to warn workers of the danger. Other companies incorporated asbestos containing parts – such as asbestos gaskets and packing – into equipment they sold to the government and ship builders but failed to warn of the hazards associated with working with asbestos materials in those products.

Shipbuilding and repair at shipyards was a major industry in the Pacific Northwest. Many people earned their living working in the shipyards decades ago. Many of these workers who are retired now may have been diagnosed with mesothelioma as a result of their work in shipyards and they deserve compensation for the medical bills they are incurring as well as the pain and suffering they are experiencing. Experienced attorneys understand the devastation of mesothelioma and may be able to help mesothelioma victims receive the compensation they deserve.

Case Story: Richard Morgan

Richard was a man who brought a smile to everyone’s face. So it was a great shock to Yvone, his wife of 55 years, and their family and friends when he was diagnosed with lung cancer and died that same month.

Because of the suddenness of Richard’s death, an autopsy was performed. It revealed that his diseased lung contained 850 asbestos bodies per gram of wet lung tissue, which is over 40 times the amount considered normal. Even though Richard had been a long-time cigarette smoker, it was clear that asbestos exposure was the primary cause of his death.

As a sheet metal worker, Richard had for many years been exposed to the deadly asbestos fibers that caused his cancer. While investigating the companies responsible for Richard’s exposure, our attorneys interviewed several of his former coworkers. One had a keen memory of the brand names of asbestos-containing equipment they’d worked with over the years.

After a long, hard fight, we successfully settled the case against a variety of defendants, including heater manufacturers and parts suppliers – some of which had rarely before been exposed as makers and distributors of asbestos-containing products.

Asbestos silenced a man whose zest for life brought joy to the people around him. Because his family was determined to ensure his death was not in vain, the companies responsible for Richard’s exposure to asbestos were held accountable. We are proud to have helped bring these companies to justice.

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Representing asbestos and mesothelioma clients throughout the Northwest.

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Seattle, WA 98101

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Portland, OR 97204

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