When Terry Nichols first contacted one of the lawyers at Bergman Draper Oslund, he, like many of our clients, had recently been diagnosed with mesothelioma. What made his case a little bit different was that Terry was Canadian.
Terry Nichols worked as a millwright and pipefitter at a pulp and paper mill in British Columbia. Millwrights commonly work at a variety of industrial sites – like paper and pulp mills – installing, maintaining and repairing large machinery such as boilers, pumps, valves and turbines.
These skilled workers use a variety of hand and power tools to cut and join metal construction materials during the hoisting, erecting, aligning, moving, dismantling, repairing, adjusting and maintenance of all sorts of heavy machinery. Pipefitters also work in industrial and manufacturing facilities as they design, install, and maintain the intricate pipe systems used in such plants.
During his work, Terry was exposed to asbestos thermal insulation products used to insulate the machinery on which he was working. Many of the boilers, pumps and valves with which Terry worked in the paper and pulp mills were literally covered with asbestos containing insulation. Anytime Terry, or one of the workers nearby, was required to install new asbestos gaskets, packing or other insulation – or to remove old products – asbestos dust was released into the air surrounding the workers.
By the time he was set to enjoy retirement in his 60s, Terry learned that the asbestos he had worked around all those years had been quietly killing him.
Even though Terry and his wife lived in Canada, we wanted to file the lawsuit in Washington state, based on Terry’s exposure to an asbestos products manufactured in Washington. Our lawyers dug into the facts of the case, talking to Terry’s friends and coworkers about his work at the paper mill.
We uncovered an equipment list from the facility that listed every boiler, pump, and turbine that had been used at the site when Terry was there. Armed with that information, we learned which of the equipment that Terry had worked with called for the use of asbestos insulation and packing products.
Once we had that, we filed suit here. We knew we might face opposition from the asbestos companies because of Terry’s Canadian citizenship; and we did. But we kept our eye on the ball – helping Terry’s family. With the six figure settlement we negotiated in the case, Terry’s lovely widow was able to keep her home. It was what Terry wanted, what he fought for in the end. We were proud to be there fighting with him.