Asbestos


According to the Chicagotribune.com, a jury awarded a verdict of $2.6 million in the case of a woman exposed to toxic asbestos particles.  The woman, Jean Holmes, died from asbestos related cancer, mesothelioma, in April of 2006.  Mrs. Holmes’ exposure to asbestos occurred when she washed her husband’s clothes.  Her husband, Donald Homes, was a worker at the Union Asbestos and Rubber Company, in Bloomington, IL in the 1960’s. 

The lawsuit claimed Mr. Holmes worked around asbestos products manufactured and used by the defendant’s.  Mr. Holmes’ work with these asbestos products caused asbestos particles to be lodged on his clothing at work everyday.  Mr. Holmes carried these deadly particles home to his wife, who shook them out of the clothing and breathed the particles into her lungs, while she was preparing the clothes to be washed. 

The plaintiffs claimed the defendants, including Honeywell International, Inc. and Pneumo Abex LLC, failed to warn the workers who used their products about the dangers of asbestos.  It was claimed these defendants knew about the dangers of asbestos for years and conspired to suppress the information about the dangers, so that workers would not learn about the deadly nature of the product they routinely worked with.  The jury found the defendants responsible for their failure to warn the workers about these hazards.

Advertisements

A new drug created by Cuban doctors may give hope to lung cancer victims, according to a story on CNN.com.  The drug, named ClimaVax EGF has been in development for almost 20 years.  Clinical trials have taken place in the UK, Canada and Cuba and over 700 patients have received the vaccine.

The vaccine extended the lives of terminal patients by four months, but some patients have had their lives extended for several years.  The results were compared against those who only received conventional therapies like chemo and radiation.  Younger patients appeared to have greater rates of success. 

The drug encourages production of an antibody that inhibits EGF (epidermal growth factor), a substance in the body which drives lung cancer cell  growth.  It is hoped this treatment can be developed into something that can bring lung cancer under control, in the same way other chronic diseases are controlled by medication.  Promising news.

A story on Yahoo News reports W.R. Grace settled a class action against the company relating to asbestos containing attic insulation the company sold.  THe company will pay $30 Million up front to fund a trust, another $30 Million after 3 years, and up to ten annual payments of $8 Million if terms of settlement are met, up to $140 Million total over the life of the settlement. 

The class action stems from the company’s sale of Zonolite Insulation, an asbestos containing product the company sold across the country for many years.  Over the years the product was installed in millions of homes.  The fund will pay the claims of individuals injured by this dangerous and sometimes deadly product.

Zonolite insulation was made primarily of vermiculite, an ore mined at the W.R. Grace mine in Libby, Montana.  The vermiculite in the mine contained asbestos.  The community of Libby has been devastated by asbestos related diseases, including mesothelioma, lung cancer, and asbestosis.  Whole families in Libby have been destroyed by these horrible diseases.  Others in cities and towns all across the country have been injured by this product, which was used to insulate their attics. 

The lawsuits alleged W.R. Grace knew of the dangers of asbestos for years, but continued to use the product and never warned anyone of the potential dangers of the product.

According to a report on the Age.com.au, remote control cars containing asbestos parts and manufactured in China, were sold on E-Bay to consumers in Australia.  The E-Bay seller, Topwincn, apparently advertised the cars as containing “super thick asbestos brake blocks”. 

According to E-Bay’s records, Australian consumers purchased several of the asbestos-containing cars.  E-Bay claimed the asbestos containing products were removed from the website when they were notified the toys might contain asbestos.  A spokesman for E-Bay stated: “eBay has a zero tolerance for illegal items and (has) sophisticated systems in place and people working to pick up and remove these sorts of items”. 

The models that included asbestos include:  4WD Speed Sonic 2005 RC Car Model 94102; HSP Atomic Warhead Nitro Buggy Models 94105 and 94106; 2007 Hi-Speed Nitro/Gas Tyrannosaurus Monster Truck Model 94108; Gas Powered RC Car Model Frc-10; Gas Powered 4WD RC Truck Model Frc-08.

According to a story in the Missoulian, the US Supreme Court has denied the appeals of W.R. Grace and six of the companies’ executives who were trying to avoida criminal trial on charges that they violated the Clean Air Act by unleashing asbestos dust on the community of Libby, Montana, home to the W.R. Grace vermiculite mine. 

The Grace executives were indicted in 2005 for knowingly exposing the mine workers, as well as Libby residents.  To date 300 to 400 residents of Libby have died from asbestos related illnesses, and hundreds of other residents currently suffer from asbestos related disease.  The diseases caused by asbestos include mesothelioma, a cancer of the lining surrounding the lung called the pleura; various other cancers, including lung cancer; and asbestosis, a scarring of the lungs caused by exposure to asbestos.

Grace’s appeal centered on the argument that the EPA’s definition of asbestos didn’t include the asbestos fibers found in their vermiculite mine in Libby.  According to an article on the history of the mine, W.R. Grace bought the mine in 1963.  A month after the purchase was complete, a W.R. Grace executive wrote a memo stating that there was asbestos present at the mine and opined about possible ways to market the stuff. 

Throughout the 1960’s Grace conducted x-rays on employees and by 1969 over 60% of their work force was found to have abnormal x-rays evidencing asbestos exposure.  In addition, the local medical community in Libby told the company workers were getting sick.  Grace also conducted its own studies which found that the asbestos in the vermiculite caused asbestosis and cancer.

Grace executives could stand trial as early as this fall.

 

According to a story on Law.com, the 4th District Court of Appeal in Florida, has ruled the state’s 2005 “Asbestos and Silica Compensation Act” unconstitutional.  The law barred claimants with non-malignant lung diseases and less than a 20 percent loss in breathing capacity from suing.  The law also barred claimants suffering from lung cancer, who did not also have asbestosis and diminished breathing capacity, from suing.  The court ruled the entire statute unconstitutional. 

One provision of the act applied the standards set up in the act retroactively to cases already filed in court.  Judge Gary Farmer wote in the decision that the Act “may not constitutionally be applied to eliminate the existing vested rights in the lawsuits pending when the act became effective” in 2005.  In effect, those who got sick before the law was passed had rights that had already accrued before the law went into effect, such that the legislature’s act of making the law retroactive made the statute unconstitutional. 

Another example of tort reform at work.  Tort reformers routinely take away rights of every day citizens, by pushing laws like the one cited above.  Laws that they know trample rights the constitution gives to you and I.  The next step is that the tort reformers then want to monkey around with the courts (appointment of judges. etc.), so that judges like the ones on the 4th Circuit who review these unconstitutional laws will rule that there is nothing wrong with trampling the constitutional rights of the citizens of this great country. 

This result was right and just, and protects average citizens – the tort reformers must be fuming. 

Reuters reports that suit has been filed against CBS, the toy maker – Planet Toys, and retail toy sellers, regarding the “CSI Crime Scene Investigation” toy crime fighting kit.  The lawsuit alleges the fingerprint dusting powder contains deadly amounts of tremolite asbestos.

Asbestos is a known carcinogen.  It is a mineral that was used heavily in this country during the middle of the last century.  Asbestos was used as thermal insulation by workers in industrial plants and shipyards, and as a brake lining by mechanics in garages all across the US.  Asbestos was used in households across the country as well.  Vinyl flooring contained asbestos, joint compound used on sheetrook contained asbestos, popcorn on ceilings contained asbestos, and transite siding on the outside of houses contained asbestos.  There were even unfortunate areas of the country where asbestos was used to pave roads and driveways.  The death toll from asbestosis, a lung disease caused by asbestos, as well as asbestos related cancers such as lung cancer and mesothelioma is astronomical.

Planet Toys has issued a “stop sale” on their toys.  They claim that none of their testing on the toy was positive for asbestos.  The original testing, which found the asbestos in the product, was done by the non-profit Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization.  The ADAO filed suit to halt the sale of the toys and allow customers who purchased the toys to receive a refund. 

« Previous PageNext Page »