Asbestos removal, or asbestos abatement as it is known in the industry, is an expensive process that requires professional inspections and certified contractors. Asbestos abatement also requires permits and a well-trained crew that is provided with proper safety equipment, including protective clothing and respirators or ventilators.
Some property owners who are renovating or demolishing a building choose to ignore the law and remove the asbestos in an illegal and dangerous manner. This is dangerous to the workers and the community at large, as asbestos dust is known to cause deadly forms of cancer such as mesothelioma, asbestosis, lung cancer, and other respiratory illnesses. According to a recent news article from the Detroit Free Press, federal authorities are increasing efforts to curb illegal asbestos removal and disposal.
The article discusses how workers in a now-closed automotive plant showed up without proper training of safety equipment to remove asbestos. The building was dark, as there were no working lights. Workers would use scissor lifts and cut off sheets of asbestos-laden pipe insulation as their supervisors yelled, “let ‘er rip.” By the end of each day of work, these untrained workers were covered with asbestos dust.
Four years have passed since this illegal asbestos removal job, and the owner was recently fined nearly $70,000 for safety violations. Federal prosecutors also filed charges against four defendants, one of whom was sent to federal prison.
As our Boston mesothelioma lawyers can explain, improper removal of asbestos is a violation of the United States Clean Air Act. Federal prosecutors are now stepping up efforts to enforce this law, due to an increase of the number of demolitions as the economy improves.
One of the reasons employers are willing to take these risks is because of the great expense in lawfully removing asbestos. They know that many laborers in need of work will gladly do the job while having no idea they are being exposed to deadly asbestos fibers. The fact that it takes between 20 and 50 years for most victims to develop mesothelioma contributes to the number of landowners willing skirt the law.
One of the major problems is that the workers are being exposed to a serious health risk without knowing it. Failure to warn of a known danger is one of the claims typically filed in personal injury lawsuits, including those involving asbestos exposure.
Another important point is that when dangerous behavior also constitutes a crime, this may be used to prove negligence in a civil action. When something is illegal, that conduct may be considered negligence per se in some cases. Negligence per se is a legal term that means the conduct is presumed to be negligent because it is illegal.
In any negligence case in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, plaintiff must establish defendant owed a duty of care to plaintiff to act in a reasonable and prudent manner to protect foreseeable plaintiffs from foreseeable harm. It is then necessary to prove defendant breached this duty by acting in a negligent manner. When negligent conduct is also illegal, that may be enough to establish a breach.
If you are diagnosed with mesothelioma in Massachusetts, call the Law Offices of Jeffrey S. Glassman for a free and confidential appointment — 1-888-367-2900.
More Blog Entries:
Mesothelioma Lawsuits for Shipyard Workers, July 30, 2014, Boston Mesothelioma Lawyers Blog