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United States v. O’Malley: Criminal Prosecutions for Asbestos Violations

While those in the asbestos industry went to great lengths to prevent the general public from learning about the dangers of asbestos and that the deadly fibers could cause malignant mesothelioma, it is now a well-known fact.  It is for this reason that many companies over the years have been sued in connection with the tens of thousands of deaths connected with the toxic material.

ussupremecourthallwayDue to the fact that the deadly asbestos fibers often take between 20 and 50 years to metastasize into the cancer to a point where people know they are sick, there are still thousands of new cases being diagnosed each year in the United States alone.

For this reason, there are new mesothelioma lawsuits being filed in Boston and other cities across the U.S. to make sure the victims of this awful yet completely preventable illness and their families get the compensation to which the are rightfully entitled. In some cases, where there has been an extreme risk taken with respect to the plaintiff’s health and well being, there may be punitive damages awarded should the case go to trial.  However, many of these cases will settle without the need to wait through the trial process.

In addition to civil fines and lawsuits, federal prosecutors can actually file criminal charges in some cases for violations involving asbestos, because taking such a risk by knowingly exposing person to asbestos fibers is considered a criminal act in many cases. In United States v. O’Malley, a case from the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, the defendant was convicted of violating the federal Clean Air Act when he removed and disposed of asbestos insulation in an illegal manner.

The reason this is so serious is because when you remove the asbestos from a building without taking proper precautions, everyone on the jobsite and living or working near the jobsite is at risk of inhaling or otherwise ingesting the deadly fibers.  If the asbestos is left on the ground, it can contaminate drinking water, and that can cause mesothelioma, as well, just as by inhaling the fibers.

He was found guilty and requested a new trial.  He based his motion on newly discovered evidence that he claimed was not available to the defense at the time of trial.  This is one of the reasons for requesting a new trial.

The trial court concluded that his actual claims were that his constitutional rights had been violated.  While this is a basis for a new trial in some cases, it is not the proper basis for filing a Rule 33 motion instead of an appeal, which is what he did in the instant case. The court concluded on appeal that he should have been granted a hearing on this basis, because there was overlap between his claims and the standard for Rule 33.  For this reason, they reversed and remanded the case.  This does not mean he will be granted a new trial, but it does mean the trial court must hear his claim on the merits before deciding.

If you or a loved one is diagnosed with mesothelioma in Boston, call for a free and confidential appointment at 1-888-367-2900.

Additional Resources:

United States v. O’Malley, August 27, 2016 United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit

More Blog Entries:

Grant v. Foster Wheeler, LLC – Proof of Asbestos Defendants’ Products as Proximate Cause of Injury, July 5, 2016, Boston Mesothelioma Lawyer Blog