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A recent mesothelioma lawsuit filed by a former shipyard worker in Louisiana was headlined by a local news outlet as having a “lengthy” list of defendants who are believed to have contributed to his toxic asbestos exposure.
However, having a host of defendants in these cases is not uncommon. While the defendants paint this as a ploy by plaintiff attorneys to squeeze every last dollar from companies that may only have been minimally responsible, this view is not a reflection of reality. The truth of the matter is that asbestos was (and in some cases continues to be!) a pervasive element in a wide range of industries.
The material is widely known to have been used in roofing, sealing, automotive work, electrical and insulation materials, tiling, railroad manufacturers, shipbuilders, in boilers, in numerous pump and gasket products – and more.
It’s not unfathomable that in a single position, a worker could be exposed to asbestos from dozens of sources over the course of even just a few years. Not only were laborers directly affected, their families also often suffered exposure second-hand, has a result of coming in contact with their asbestos-laden work clothing.
In some mesothelioma lawsuits, plaintiff attorneys will choose to name not only the employer, who would have had a duty to warn as well as to provide adequate protective gear but also manufacturers, who failed to warn of the dangers of their products.
In the Louisiana case, the plaintiff alleges that his employers, as well as, the product manufacturers failed to take adequate safety precautions to eliminate or significantly reduce the health and safety risks of frequent, on-the-job contact with the toxic fibers.
He reportedly worked on and off for five years at a shipyard on the Gulf of Mexico. During his time there, he reportedly used, handled or was in the direct vicinity of those who were using and handling either asbestos-containing products or raw asbestos. Primarily, the material was used in various jobs in the ships’ engine rooms.
Working in these tight, enclosed quarters likely amplified the risk of danger, as these areas were poorly ventilated, meaning the workers were continuously breathing in the fibers with no adequate air filtration system.
Although his employment at the shipyard stretched from 1964 to 1969, it was not until March of 2013 that he was diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma.
The physical damage done by asbestos often does not reveal itself until many years – usually decades – after exposure.
In this case, the defendant named more than 50 defendants, including his employer, product manufacturers, insurance companies and a handful of executives with certain firms.
What we typically see happen in these cases is that a number of defendants will settle the claim before the trial phase. A few others, particularly the larger firms, may try to fight it until the trial phase, in some cases doing everything to delay the process as the plaintiff continues to grow sicker.
In most cases, the defendants have already been the subject of a voluminous number of claims. Refusal to settle usually has less to do with whether they believe they have culpability in your case and more to do with what a settlement might mean to the future of other pending cases.
Help for mesothelioma victims can be found at The Ferraro Law Firm by calling (888) 554-2030. Offices in Miami, Washington, D.C., and New York City.
Lengthy list of companies named in asbestos suit filed by retired shipyard worker, Sept. 17, 2013, By Holland Phillips, Louisiana Record
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