Richard Morgan was one of those guys who brought a smile to everyone’s face—the type of person who’d call a friend just to tell him a joke and make him laugh. Light-hearted and lovable, with a great sense of humor, Richard could hold a lively conversation with a wall post if he set his mind to it.
So it was a great shock to Yvone, his wife of 55 years, and their family and friends when asbestos took Richard from them. He was diagnosed with lung cancer in January 2006 and died that same month at the age of 75. The man who so enjoyed making those around him happy apparently suffered in silence–for how long, no one knows–before the cancer overpowered him.
Because of the suddenness of Richard’s death, an autopsy was performed. It revealed another shocking discovery: A tissue digestion analysis of the diseased lung revealed 850 asbestos bodies per gram of wet lung tissue, which is more than 40 times the amount considered the upper limit of normal (20 asbestos bodies per gram of wet lung tissue). Even though Richard had smoked cigarettes until 1993, asbestos exposure was a primary cause of his lung cancer and death.
In fact, asbestos is a major cause of lung cancer among people exposed to asbestos through their work. Asbestos exposure increases the risk of lung cancer among even nonsmokers by tenfold or more. For smokers, asbestos exposure causes a synergistic effect that increases the risk of lung cancer by as much as 200 times compared to people who never smoked or were occupationally exposed to asbestos.
Medical personnel who broke the news of the asbestos bodies in Richard’s lungs to his family encouraged them to find an attorney to help them seek compensation from the companies responsible for Richard’s death. Bergman Draper Oslund team represented them in their lawsuit.
As a sheet metal worker for several contractors in the Bremerton, Washington area, Richard for many years tore out, installed, and repaired heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) equipment, including boilers and furnaces, in people’s homes. During his long career, Richard was exposed to the deadly asbestos fibers that caused his cancer.
While investigating which companies were responsible for Richard’s exposure to asbestos, the attorneys at Bergman Draper Oslund spoke to several of his co-workers. One friend and former co-worker in particular had a keen memory of the brand names of asbestos-containing equipment they’d worked with over the years. With his help, the family’s attorneys undertook the arduous process of determining whether these products contained asbestos. Many of them did.
Unbeknownst to Richard, he had been exposed to asbestos fibers by working with air duct units, duct connectors, packaged boilers, gaskets, packing, asbestos cement, asbestos rope, millboard, and paper. After a long, hard fight, Bergman Draper Oslund 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 and love of laughter 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 Morgan’s exposure to asbestos were held accountable. The attorneys of Bergman Draper Oslund are proud to have helped Richard’s family bring these companies to justice.