Defective Mask: $32.8M Mesothelioma Verdict
By: Andrew S. Wainwright, Esq.
Published on May 17, 2016
A California jury awarded $32.8 million dollars to a foundry worker and his wife for his developing mesothelioma after breathing asbestos while wearing a defective respirator sold by American Optical Corporation. Bill Tyler was diagnosed with mesothelioma, a cancer caused only by asbestos, in 2015. The jury award included $10 million in punitive damages, the first time American Optical Corporation has been ordered to pay punitive (punishment) damages.
How was the plaintiff exposed to asbestos?
Bill Tyler, age 62, began working at Foundry Service and Supply in Torrance, California as a 19-year-old, from 1972 until 1992. He wore an American Optical Corporation mask for 17 years, believing it would protect him from breathing asbestos dust generated by foundry operations that included cutting Marinite boards that contained asbestos. However, American Optical Corporation knew that workers used its R2090 mask to protect against asbestos exposure, and knew that it was not designed to protect against asbestos. What they sold was a false sense of security. Tyler and his fellow workers thought they were protected from harm, and they were instead being exposed to harm.
Why didn’t American Optical R2090 respirators protect against asbestos exposure?
The R2090 respirator included a double head strap that to an ordinary consumer seemed to pull the mask tight enough against the face to protect against asbestos inhalation. But the mask was not designed for asbestos protection. It leaked around the edges, and deadly asbestos got in and was inhaled.
In addition, if there is sufficient asbestos in the atmosphere, even a high-quality respirator mask is not enough, by itself, to protect you from asbestos exposure. That’s why today asbestos removal is performed by workers wearing disposable gear over their respirators. This includes a suit, hood, gloves, and shoe covers. Before removing the gear, the worker is sprayed with water mist and all the gear must be removed while the respirator is still on. The entire outfit is sealed in asbestos waste containers before the mask is removed.
What were Tyler’s claims against American Optical?
Tyler sued American Optical for strict product liability, negligence, negligent failure to warn, concealment, and intentional misrepresentation. The jury ruled that American Optical knew its respirator would not protect against asbestos exposure, and hid that fact from Tyler and others who used the R2090 mask.
Is American Optical the only company that made respirators?
No, other companies also made dangerous respirators. Thornton Law Firm has successfully prosecuted cases over the last 15 years for workers who alleged they wore defective respirators while cutting asbestos, and developed mesothelioma as a result.
Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing Company (3M Co.) manufactured masks for use in workplaces where asbestos was being used, including the 8500 dust mask and the 8710 disposable respirator. (You’d probably recognize an 8710 – the disposable paper nose cone with a yellow headband and an aluminum piece that you could press to fit your nose.) 3M advertised that those masks would protect workers from dangerous dusts. Like American Optical, the 3M lawsuits allege that the devices did not provide adequate protection against workplace dust and asbestos particles. Both products have since been removed from the market by 3M Co.
Similarly, Mine Safety Appliances Company (MSA) sold its Dustfoe 66 respirators and masks with the promise that they would provide protection from asbestos dust. The Dustfoe 66 respirators were sold throughout the 1960’s and 1970’s and came in a tin box. The respirator itself was notable for its triangle-shaped nosepiece. While advertised that it could protect workers from asbestos, lawsuits allege the MSA Dustfoe 66 respirators did not provide the promised protection, and that MSA was aware of the defects. Often, these respirators were worn by workers cutting asbestos-containing materials in machine and fabricating shops.
What can I do if I have developed mesothelioma after using a defective mask?
Thornton Law Firm has been fighting for asbestos victims since 1978, including lawsuits against the manufacturers of dangerous and defective masks and respirators. If you have been diagnosed with mesothelioma or any asbestos-related disease, count on New England’s leading mesothelioma law firm to get you the full compensation you are entitled to under the law. Call our toll free number 888-632-0108 or tell us your story here. All legal claims have short time limits so call now to protect your legal rights.
Asbestos in Schools: Schools Ignoring Federal Laws
If you or someone you love has been diagnosed with mesothelioma or other asbestos
disease, call 1-888-632-0108 for a no-obligation evaluation of your legal rights, or
tell us your story using our online contact form.
By: Andrew S. Wainwright, Esq.
Published on January 5, 2016
Senator Ed Markey of Massachusetts released a report sharply critical of schools across the country – including schools right here in Massachusetts – for failing to comply with federal laws meant to safeguard against the hazards presented by airborne asbestos in schools. The report, ‘Failing the Grade: Asbestos in America’s Schools‘, reveals that most schools are not aware of all the asbestos in place in their buildings. As a result, renovations and repairs are conducted without the important safety measures meant to prevent the spread and release of breathable asbestos fibers.
Asbestos in Schools – Safeguarding Students, Teachers, and School Personnel
In March Senator Markey and Senator Boxer from California asked states whether they were in compliance with the 30 year old federal law governing asbestos in schools, the Asbestos Hazard Emergency Response Act (known as AHERA). Almost half of U.S. schools were built between 1950 and 1969, when asbestos was routinely used as a building material.
Where Can Asbestos Be Found in a School?
Asbestos in schools may be found in the insulation of heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems; as fireproofing on the structure; as ceiling material, either sprayed or tiles; in roofing and floor tiles; in wallboard or plaster walls or ceilings; in soundproofing material; even in chipped paint. As long as the asbestos materials are undisturbed and in good condition, the EPA maintains the risk is minimal and recommends they be left in place. But as older schools require constant maintenance, and often require repairs or updating, work done poorly or by workers unaware that asbestos is present can cause serious exposures.
What Does Federal Law Require of Schools?
AHERA requires that each state monitor asbestos in schools and prevent exposure by:
- Inspect every school once, then re-inspect every 3 years
- Develop an asbestos management plan. A copy must be kept at the school
- Annual notification to parents, teachers and employees re the plan and any abatement planned or completed
- Designate an asbestos coordinator
- Periodic surveillance of known/suspected asbestos
- All inspections and abatement be performed by accredited professionals
- Asbestos awareness training for custodial/maintenance employees
Serious Asbestos Management Problems Identified In Our Schools
Markey’s report is based on the response of 20 states. More than two-thirds reported having schools that contain asbestos, and most of that asbestos is unabated. Neither the states nor the school districts are complying with AHERA. Only 288 of the 3,690 school districts that have schools with asbestos actually perform periodic inspections of those schools – less than 10%. Similarly, the report found that “States do not appear to be systematically monitoring, investigating or addressing asbestos hazards in schools.”
What Can You Do?
Parents, teachers or employees should ask for an annual asbestos statement if you are not receiving one. Ask to see the school’s asbestos management plan. Ask if your child’s school is periodically inspected for asbestos. If you see deteriorating materials in your school, report it to the designated asbestos coordinator. States are required to keep your children safe, but the Markey report shows that states are failing to do so.
Thornton Law Firm is Massachusetts’ first, most successful, and most respected team of mesothelioma lawyers. We have had the great privilege of representing injured asbestos victims in mesothelioma and asbestos cases since 1978. If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with mesothelioma or another asbestos-related disease, call on our experienced, compassionate mesothelioma lawyers for a free, no obligation consultation by calling 1-888-632-0108 or by telling us your story online. Like all legal claims, asbestos claims have short time limits. Do not delay seeking advice.
Senators Durbin And Markey Introduce Bill To Reduce Asbestos Exposure
By Andrea Marino Landry, Esq.
Published on Mar 11, 2015
U.S. Senators Dick Durbin, D-Illinois, and Edward J. Markey, D-Massachusetts, have introduced legislation that would protect Americans from asbestos exposure making information about the identities and known locations of asbestos-containing products available to the public. Unlike other hazardous products, asbestos has not been completely banned in the United States. The Reducing Exposure to Asbestos Database (READ) Act will require the creation of a public online database where manufacturers, importers, and those who otherwise handle asbestos would be required to annually report information about asbestos to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The EPA would then make this information accessible to the public in an easily searchable format.
Importantly, that database would also be required to include any publicly-accessible location in which the products were known to be present in the past year. This will allow people to avoid coming into contact with asbestos, and warn them about its presence in their communities.
The READ Act updates the Asbestos Information Act signed by President Ronald Reagan in 1988. That law contained a one-time only asbestos reporting requirement. That information was then published in the Federal Register. The READ Act brings the Asbestos Information Act into the internet age by requiring public, annual posting of this vital information.
Because it has not been completely banned here, asbestos is still imported into the United States and still sold and used in products that reach the public. According to U.S. Geological Survey estimates, American asbestos consumption was 950 tons (1,900,000 pounds) in the year 2013.
“Every year, far too many Americans and their families suffer the deadly consequences of asbestos exposure,” Senator Durbin said in a statement released by his office. “The goal of this legislation is simple: increase the transparency and accessibility of data informing the public about where asbestos is known to be present. This information will increase awareness, reduce exposure, and help save lives.”
We salute Senators Durbin and Markey for their efforts to protect Americans from exposure to carcinogenic asbestos. As attorneys representing victims of mesothelioma and asbestos-related disease since 1978, we are all too aware of the tragic consequences of asbestos exposure. As always, if you have been diagnosed with mesothelioma or any other asbestos-related disease, Thornton Law Firm’s asbestos attorneys are here to help. Call our toll free number 888-632-0108 for a free, no-obligation consultation. Or tell us your story here using our website. Asbestos claims, like all legal claims, have short time limits. Do not delay seeking legal advice.
Did You Work With Dick Girard At Norton Co. In Worcester?
We represent Mrs. Joan Girard in a personal injury lawsuit arising from her diagnosis with the asbestos cancer mesothelioma. Mrs. Girard never worked with asbestos. However, her husband Dick Girard worked at Norton Company in Worcester for 35 years. As we have represented dozens of workers over the years who were exposed to asbestos while working at Norton Co., we believe that Dick Girard was exposed to asbestos in the course of his work, and the asbestos fibers he brought home on his clothes exposed Mrs. Girard to asbestos. Joan Girard recalls shaking the dust off Dick’s work clothing while doing laundry.
Dick Girard, whose full name was Richard W. Girard, Jr., worked at Norton Company for over 35 years, from 1959 until his retirement. He worked as a laborer in Plant 8, a machine operator at Abrasive 2, and was a foreman at Supply 6 before he retired. During his work, he was most probably exposed to asbestos from working around the asbestos material Norton used in the grinding wheels they manufactured. There were other products with asbestos being manufactured in the building, as well as equipment within the facility itself like steampipes, boilers and other equipment that was covered in insulation containing asbestos. On a regular basis, Norton Co. would repair and maintain that equipment, and asbestos contaminated the entire workplace as a result.
If you worked at Norton Company and knew Dick Girard, we would like to talk to you about what you remember. Please contact attorney Andrew Wainwright or investigator Charles LePauloue at (617) 531-3936, or contact us online. Thornton Law Firm appreciates your willingness to come forward and help a fellow worker’s family.
Our search for Mr. Girard’s co-workers was featured in the Worcester Telegram last week. Thank you to reporter Aaron Nicodemus for the article.
Worcester: Contractor Sentenced To Jail For Exposing Teen To Asbestos
The Worcester area contractor convicted of exposing a teenager to asbestos during a demolition job was sentenced to serve 60 days of a 2 year jail sentence by a Superior Court judge. Daniel A. Watterson, 43, formerly of Webster, was convicted of child endangerment and three violations of the Commonwealth’s Clean Air Act.
Watterson hired the 17-year-old boy to help remove and dispose of insulation on two boilers in the basement of a house on June Street in Worcester. The teen removed the asbestos from the boilers and pipes by ripping off the insulation and chipping at it with a putty knife. The original indictment described the work this way: “The insulation was allegedly piled in the cellar space before being placed in trash bags and transported to a dumpster owned by Watterson for disposal. Authorities further allege that the workers broke down the boilers and its components, using sledgehammers and hacksaws. The components were later rejected by a local scrap yard for disposal due to visible asbestos.”
Watterson’s attorney asked for probation and no jail time for his client, saying that he too had been exposed to asbestos fibers, acted without intent or malice, and had already lost his home improvement contracting and oil burner technician licenses. The judge rejected those arguments and in addition to the jail sentence, ordered Watterson to pay for an annual medical examination for the teenager, and to reimburse the homeowner $1,675 for the costs they incurred in complying with state orders to decontaminate their basement.
This was the first use of the child endangerment statute in an asbestos case. We applaud the state for pursuing this case and others more aggressively, both to educate the public and to deter businesses from exposing young workers who are less aware of the hazards of asbestos contamination. If you believe asbestos exposure is occurring during renovation or demolition, contact the MassDEP Environmental Strike Force Hotline at 1-888-VIOLATE (846-5283) or the Attorney General’s Office at 617-727-2200.
The judge ordered lifetime medical monitoring of the asbestos exposed teenager because asbestos disease is not contracted immediately. Instead, it develops over time, and the time period between exposure to asbestos and the later development of disease is referred to as the latency period. All of the asbestos-related diseases including mesothelioma, asbestosis, and cancer, have long latency periods. In the case of mesothelioma, the latency period can be as little as 10 years or upwards of 39 or more years. Unfortunately, once embedded in lung tissue, asbestos cannot be exhaled or released. Since asbestos is a carcinogen, even a brief exposure to asbestos is capable of causing disease years later.
Thornton Law Firm is the first law firm to represent asbestos victims in Massachusetts and throughout New England and has done so since 1978. The courts have appointed us as coordinating counsel to represent the interests of all asbestos plaintiffs in cases filed in both Massachusetts state and federal courts. If you have been diagnosed with mesothelioma or another asbestos-related disease, call the Boston asbestos lawyers of Thornton Law Firm at 888-491-9726 for a free, confidential consultation, or tell us your story online. Asbestos claims, like all legal claims, are subject to short time limits, so do not delay seeking legal assistance.
Asbestos Jobsites In Massachusetts: Hollingsworth & Vose Company
Andrew S. Wainwright, Esq.
Posted on Nov 19, 2013
An ad from 1955: “Only KENT gives you the scientific Micronite filter that takes out so much of the nicotine and tars.” (From the collection of Stanford University, tobacco.stanford.edu)
It is common knowledge that asbestos was used as insulation material – used in pipe coverings and cements. Less well-known, though, is that asbestos was incorporated into a wide variety of everyday construction and household items: paint, caulk, attic insulation, gardening supplies, makeup, and even crayons.
What is almost unknown, however, is that asbestos was once used as a “safety” feature in Kent cigarettes. In the 1950s, the Kent “Micronite” filter was featured in a wide array of the company’s advertisements with taglines like, “More scientists and educators smoke Kent with the Micronite Filter.” “You can SEE the proof of Kent’s health protection.” Those unfortunate enough to have smoked Kent Micronite cigarettes were not, as advertised, safer. Instead, they combined their exposure to cigarette smoke with asbestos exposure – inhaling through a filter made of asbestos.
In addition to the cigarette smokers of this era, workers who worked in factories manufacturing these filters were also put at risk of developing asbestos-related diseases like asbestosis and mesothelioma.
This is because the Micronite filters were made with crocidolite (“blue”) asbestos. These filters were developed and manufactured in the early and mid-1950s by the specialty paper and filter manufacturer Hollingsworth & Vose, through its subsidiary H&V Specialties. The Micronite cigarette filter material was produced for Lorillard Tobacco Company. From March 1952 until at least May 1956, when Kent stopped its production, asbestos remained in Kent cigarettes. (The Kent Micronites are still sold today, but Kent now uses charcoal filters).
Hollingsworth & Vose manufactured this Micronite material at its Massachusetts plants in West Groton and Rochdale. The company also used asbestos in filters it manufactured for gas masks to be used by the U.S. military. Many workers who worked on or near the Micronite or gas mask projects were exposed to large amounts of asbestos.
The asbestos attorneys at Thornton Law Firm have represented workers from the Hollingsworth & Vose plants for many years. In doing so, they have gathered a vast amount of information concerning the use of asbestos in these facilities. We understand how important it is for you to secure legal representation as soon as possible after a diagnosis of mesothelioma. If you or a loved one were once employed at Hollingsworth & Vose and have been diagnosed with mesothelioma, tell us your story here, or give us a call at 1-888-632-0108. Asbestos claims are subject to short time limits. Call now to protect your legal rights.
THORNTON LAW FIRM: 40 Years Of Service
By: Patricia M. Flannery, Esq.
Posted on January 22, 2013
Over the course of four decades of representation of plaintiffs, Thornton Law Firm has grown into the largest plaintiff-only law firm in New England. Always at the leading edge of litigation, Thornton Law Firm has a proven track record of unswerving dedication to clients and an intense focus on working our hardest for you.
We have successfully represented plaintiffs in all manner of cases: personal injury, asbestos and mesothelioma, products liability, toxic torts, birth defects, pharmaceutical and medical devices, workers’ compensation, wage and hour, and false claims act whistleblower cases. Each case, each claim, presents a different story for us to tell on behalf of our clients. After forty years, this wonderful technology exists so that we can share our own stories with you. The Thornton Law Firm blog is dedicated to sharing the latest firm news, legal stories, and items of interest to our clients and followers. With this, our first post, we would like to invite you to read, comment, and share our future posts. As always, if you have any questions about your legal rights, contact Thornton Law Firm for a free consultation by calling 888-491-9726 or tell us your story using our online contact form.
Future blog posts will include:
- The latest mesothelioma and asbestos litigation news;
- Developments in our semiconductor manufacturing / birth defect cases;
- The potential environmental effects resulting from fracking in Pennsylvania and Colorado;
- What you should know about DePuy and other hip implants;
- The status of the New England Compounding Company cases;
If there are subjects that interest you in these blogs, or if you have an idea for a future Thornton Law Firm blog post, please feel free to contact us and share your thoughts.