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Mesothelioma Cases and Federal Contractors Present Issues

If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with mesothelioma, it is fairly easy to make a determination that it was caused by exposure to asbestos fibers, since that is virtually the only cause of the deadly disease found in the United States.  However, the more difficult question is who is responsible for your illness.

boiler1This is made more difficult by the fact that exposure likely happened between 20 and 50 years ago, and there have been many different points of exposure during your lifetime.  The first thing you will need to do is write down your entire work history and any place else that you could have been exposed to deadly asbestos fibers.

As our Boston mesothelioma attorneys have seen in various cases over the years, you may have even been exposed as a child when a parent or other family came home from work each night literally covered in deadly asbestos dust.  When they walked around, that dust was tracked all over the house, and, when you hugged that person, it was transferred to you as well.  These are known as take-home asbestos cases.

In addition to remembering the facts and getting that aspect of the case right in terms of who is responsible and who is not responsible for your illness, there are also federal regulations that may have an impact on the outcome of your litigation. A recent news article from the San Francisco Gate discusses one of these instances.

In that case, a man who worked in the Vallejo shipyard as civilian employee for the U.S. Navy was constantly being exposed to asbestos.  He was working with a product called Unibestos. Unibestos was an insulation product that was used on nuclear submarines, and this man was responsible for loading the material onto the submarines.  He was constantly being covered in asbestos dust while at work.  He was not only handling the asbestos, but he was also working with pipe fitters who were cutting the insulation material, and this was throwing dust everywhere.

There was no question that the material contained asbestos, and everyone knew that based upon its name, but most of the workers had no idea that it caused cancer.  The Navy knew very well and had actually done research into the dangers, but apparently they felt it was worth the risk and necessary on the ships.  In other words, the U.S. Navy felt the risk to workers who had no idea was outweighed by the benefits to the Navy.  While this would normally be the basis for punitive damages, in this case, it was the basis upon which the supplier to the Navy was able to avoid liability, based upon a federal law that shields some U.S. government contractors when the agency is aware of the risks and has balanced those risks against the benefits.  This seems counter-intuitive, and the plaintiff is appealing to the state supreme court, but that is where the case now stands.

Fortunately, the plaintiff was able to successfully settle with other parties as part of this case and did receive some level of compensation.

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:

Asbestos-sickened shipyard worker loses fight against Navy supplier, November 23, 2016, By Bob Egelko, SF Gate

More Blog Entries:

Rondon v. Hennessy Industries, Inc. – “Inevitable Use” Standard in Asbestos Litigation, July 2, 2016, Boston Mesothelioma Attorney Blog