For people who develop mesothelioma as a result of asbestos exposure, time often becomes a major focus of their lives. They may think about the long time they lived completely unaware that asbestos was causing irreversible damage to their lungs or other organs. They may think about the short time they have left to live as a result. And they may think about the fact that, even if they pursue litigation against the parties responsible for their asbestos exposure and life-altering diagnosis, the time it will take to get to trial may prevent them from ever benefiting from that effort.
On our mesothelioma law blog, we focus almost exclusively on the risks facing contractors, construction workers, insulation installers, shipyard and railroad employees and other workers who are exposed to asbestos over the course of their employment. We do not often focus on the people who live near a mine or other source of asbestos, and who are therefore exposed to the deadly fibers on a daily basis and, often, without knowledge of that exposure.
A state Supreme Court has ruled that the manufacturer of respirators designed to protect against asbestos exposure may have a duty to warn users of the potential risks they may encounter while using and maintaining the respirators. The ruling is a departure from several previous decisions stating that manufacturers do not have a duty to warn of the dangers of a product that they do not make, supply or sell.
The location of a now-demolished blue asbestos mill and mine is being described is seeing 10 new cases of mesothelioma a year, which a local physician is describing as "wiping out entire families."
It has long been known that nearly all cancer patients develop a certain degree of resistance to chemotherapy after receiving the treatment for varying periods of time. This means that for some patients, especially those that suffer from lung cancer and other forms that are prone to spreading, chemotherapy treatment can actually cause worse cancers to come back, leading to greater illness and, in many cases, death.
Imagine this scenario. You are unknowingly exposed to asbestos, and you learn of that exposure a few weeks after it occurs. Perhaps you were not familiar of the risks associated with asbestos prior to your exposure, but research after the fact informs you that you are now at a high risk of developing mesothelioma, asbestosis, lung cancer or a host of other diseases. Unfortunately, those ailments often take decades to materialize, meaning that you will spend the next several years worrying about the future and angry about the events that got you to this place.
Juries in Illinois and across the country have been returning multi-million dollar verdicts in asbestos-related injury cases. This is in part because of the culpability of companies that exposed workers to asbestos fumes, and also in part because of the severity of illness or injury that has often resulted because such asbestos exposure has taken place.
It was recently announced that mesothelioma and 49 other cancers have been added to the list of conditions that are covered by the federal government's 9/11 compensation fund.
Earlier this month, an appeals court handed down an interesting ruling in connection with an asbestos claim filed by the wife of a man who contracted mesothelioma after being exposed to asbestos at work. Overturning a lower court's ruling, the three-judge panel ruled that the husband and wife need not have been married at the time of the husband's asbestos exposure in order for the wife to have a valid claim of loss of consortium.
Although the five-year study into the increased rate of mesothelioma among workers in the Iron Range area of northern Minnesota is not yet complete, researchers recently gave reporters an update on their progress. Thus far, they said, they have yet to find a solid, conclusive source of the asbestos exposure that has caused more than 80 Iron Range miners to succumb to mesothelioma in the last few years.