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Asbestos in Boston Area Colleges

While  this far from a problem that only affects the greater Boston area, many college campuses have buildings that were constructed at a time when asbestos was used heavily in the construction process. This not only includes classroom buildings and research laboratories, but also dorm rooms.

school asbestos lawsuit Generally speaking, if there is a asbestos in floor or ceiling tiles, which is very common for buildings constructed during the last half of the 20th century, it does not pose much of a risk to students because the deadly asbestos fibers are sealed into tiles. The fibers can be harmful when they are inhaled or ingested.  As our Boston mesothelioma attorneys can explain, when the fibers are inhaled or ingested, they can become trapped in a layer of tissue known as the mesothelium. This layer of tissue lines most internal organs in the human body and works as a protective barrier. When asbestos fibers come in contact with the mesothelium, they can become trapped and the body has no way to remove them.  There is also nothing doctors can do to remove them.

After they remain in the body for a period of 20 to 50 years, with 40 years being the average, plainitffs may notice symptoms such as shortness of breath, chest pain, and abdominal pain.  At this point, plaintiffs will go to the doctor to learn what is wrong and find out they had malignant mesothelioma. Mesothelioma can occur in the lungs, and this is the most common location.  When mesothelioma tumors form in the lungs, this condition is known as malignant pleural mesothelioma (mpm).  MPM is the most common type of mesothelioma, but even though it occurs in the lungs, it is not the same type of cancer we typically associate with years of smoking. Once a person is told they have malignant pleural mesothelioma, plaintiffs often have a year or so to live.

Doctors can offer invasive treatment, such as combinations of chemotherapy, radiology, and surgical resection of the tumors, but even with all of these treatments, it may only extend plaintiff’s life for a short amount of time. Many people have the treatment, but others do not because the extra few months or even a year come at a tremendous cost to one’s quality of life.

From a legal standpoint, many companies knew how long it would take for asbestos exposure victims to become sick and were willing to take chances since they were making a lot of money in the present and that was all that was important to these companies.  We know from years of evidence and internal memos that these companies were well aware of the dangers of asbestos, but chose to hide that information from workers and the general public. When the public did discover the dangers of asbestos, the companies even resorted to outright fraud in some cases, where they pasted labels on their products that said it was a safe alternative to asbestos. They also knew this wasn’t true, which is the reason it was fraud.  It was also a reason why there have been such high punitive damages over the years in Boston mesothelioma cases.  This is not to say punitive damages are available in every case, but this is something about which claimants should speak to their experienced Boston asbestos exposure lawyers.

According to a recent news article from The Daily Targum, when students at Rutgers showed up for orientation on the week before classes started this year, they were informed that some dorms and other buildings on campus contain asbestos. They were informed that if the material is disturbed it could cause mesothelioma, lung cancer, and other serious respiratory illnesses. School officials said the material does not pose a hazard unless it is disturbed. This is true, but it puts many people at an uneasy state because they don’t know what to believe.  This is not to say university officials are being untruthful, but there were so many decades of lies with respect to the dangers of asbestos.

These lies about asbestos by the manufacturers are the basis for one of the main claims in a Boston mesothelioma lawsuit.  This is a claim of failure to warn of a known danger.  In some cases, products are simply dangerous.  For example, dynamite is dangerous and everyone knows it. If it was not dangerous, it would not serve any purpose. However, this is not a problem as the danger is not hidden.  This is not to say that asbestos would be okay to use if people knew about the danger, but it wouldn’t be a hidden danger. If a product is simply defective and dangerous, and that defeats its intended purpose, as is the case with deadly asbestos fibers, there could be a claim of manufacture of a defective product. While asbestos itself is not man made since it’s a naturally occurring mineral, it is mined and processed into consumer products and that makes it a manufactured good as opposed to a raw material.

The fact that asbestos causes mesothelioma is well-established. This is an issue in most trials as mesothelioma doesn’t occur unless there is asbestos exposure in virtually every instance.  The reason these cases are hard is because a lot of companies made asbestos and it is necessary to prove which company made the asbestos that actually harmed plaintiff. The best thing a plaintiff can do is to make a journal of every job they have every had and who they worked with.  They should also make a list of what jobs family members that lived with them had. There are cases called take home asbestos exposure where a worker would come home at the end of the day still covered in asbestos fibers.

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:

There is still asbestos in the ceilings of many Rutgers dormitories, September 26, 2017, By Choloe Dopico, The Daily Targum

More Blog Entries:
Montana Settles Asbestos Claims for $25M, Feb. 19, 2017, Boston Mesothelioma Lawyer Blog