A 64-year-old man went in for an exam to figure out what was behind the dull but constant ache in his chest. He had expected that tests would reveal it might be an old rib injury flaring up again.
The truth was far worse.
It was mesothelioma, a fatal cancer with no known cure caused by exposure to asbestos. That was two years ago, and he’s since undergone major surgery, battles constant chest pain, endures rigorous chemotherapy sessions and has launched a battle for what his family hopes will be compensation and justice for what will almost certainly be his untimely death.
However, mesothelioma attorneys understand that this plaintiff is not the stereotypical victim. So often, we think of individuals who worked in shipyards or steel manufacturing plants or in the auto industry. These are cases where the point of exposure is very clear-cut.
In this case, the victim is an ear, nose and throat surgeon. At some point in his life he inhaled asbestos. Pinpointing exactly when and who may be responsible poses unique challenges that many others don’t face.
Asbestos litigation has been going on for decades now. It involves many billions of dollars and thousands of plaintiffs. The doctor in this case represents a new kind of plaintiff, one in which the cause of the mesothelioma may be somewhat more elusive.
That doesn’t mean someone isn’t responsible, or shouldn’t pay. It just means that the cases aren’t as straightforward and tracking down the entity responsible isn’t a job for those lacking experience in building such complex cases.
A recent study by Bates White, an economic consultant, found that approximately 49 percent of all mesothelioma claims filed in Philadelphia from 2006 to 2010 stemmed from plaintiffs who cited products used in home construction projects and do-it-yourself mechanical work. Prior to 2000, these kinds of claims made up just 3 percent of the total.
In this case, the surgeon believes he most likely inhaled the fatal asbestos fibers while working with his father in the family greenhouse and in various DIY projects at home. Part of the challenge in proving these cases is that symptoms don’t arise until many years after exposure, so pinpointing and assigning blame is difficult.
The surgeon has filed suit against nearly 30 different companies, including boiler companies, flooring manufacturers and paint suppliers. The more detailed information a victim can provide, the better. But so long as victims can offer up a few important details, our attorneys can usually provide follow-up research.
The surgeon’s wife says the ordeal has been draining. It’s a constant barrage of doctor appointments and treatments, trying to care for their two daughters, fielding calls from attorneys and from many family friends and supporters. She likened the process to being in a machine.
It’s one in which more and more people are finding themselves, but the process of getting to that point can still be grueling, requiring a law firm that is dedicated and experienced. Our lawyers have been representing these victims for over 25 years.
Help for mesothelioma victims can be found at The Ferraro Law Firm by calling 1-800-275-3332. Offices in Miami and Washington D.C.
For One Asbestos Victim, Justice Is a Moving Target, June 16, 2013, By Dionne Searcey, The Wall Street Journal
More Blog Entries:
Mesothelioma Plaintiffs’ Rights Under Siege With “Transparency” Laws, Feb. 7, 2013, Mesothelioma Lawyer Blog