Many Schools in Boston were built at a time when asbestos was used in heavily during the construction process. This include tiles, pipes, pipe insulation, wall insulation and many other many other construction materials. Now that these buildings are old and have not been properly maintained over the years in many cases, students, staff and faculty are often facing problems associated with asbestos exposure.
According to a recent news article from The Boston Herald, a elementary school in Fitchburg, Massachusetts had to close for at least a week after a pipe exploded during the winter recess. This burst pipe resulted in ceiling tiles being damaged, and these were tiles that are known to contain deadly asbestos fibers. The school board said that it is working with the necessary government agencies and a professional asbestos abatement firm. As our Boston asbestos exposure attorneys can explain, the tiles contain asbestos for various reasons. They were made during an era when asbestos was used heavily because it has the natural ability to withstand heat, fire, caustic chemicals and electricity, but it also is an inert material. Inert materials can be used to bond other chemicals together, and since asbestos was so cheap to mine and manufacture, it was favored material.
While the companies tried to pretend they did not know it was a toxic material, it has been long-since established that the asbestos mining and manufacturing firms knew exactly how dangerous it was and that it cause the deadly form of cancer known as malignant mesothelioma.
What many people do not realize is that asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral comprised of six silica elements. Asbestos was first used around 4,000 years ago according to historical records, though it was not mined on an large scale until the Industrial Revolution in the mid 1800s. What is interesting is that there are historical records showing that asbestos exposure could cause a deadly illness way back in times of the Roman Empire even though they did not have the scientific equipment or knowledge to know exactly what that disease was. The first actual case of a malignant mesothelioma diagnosis was made in 1924 as discussed in an article from the History Cooperative. Prior to this it had become well-known that asbestos caused a deadly pulmonary illness. However, when we say well-known, we are talking about the medical community and those in the asbestos industry. This information was not at all known by the public at large.
While this is interesting from a standpoint of the history of asbestos use and the discovery of mesothelioma, it is also very relevant to how modern mesothelioma lawsuits work in Boston and across the nation. These companies took great steps to hide the dangers of asbestos from those working with the deadly substance. There was no question that those in the industry knew they were poisoning millions of workers over the years, but they did not stop mining and using asbestos because they were making so much money. They needlessly acted with a willful and wanton disregard for the safety of these workers in exchange for making a profit. This is why juries in mesothelioma lawsuits have been willing to award such high damages in many cases over the years.
In a typical personal injury case, damages are limited to what is needed to fully compensate a plaintiff for all of the loss suffered. Some of these damages are what are known as demonstrative damages meaning they can be easily calculated such as medical bills, lost wages, and funeral bills in the case of a wrongful death action, which is what happens frequently in malignant mesothelioma cases. There are damages available for pain and suffering which makes up a large portion of the damages award for a jury in many cases. When all of these damages are added up, including special damages in many cases, we have an amount that is meant to compensation the plaintiff for the full extent of the loss. That is why these types of damages are known as compensatory damages.
In most cases, the damages awarded by a jury cannot go above what is needed to compensate a plaintiff and cannot be used to punish a defendant or send a message to the defendant. However, in cases involving gross negligence or a wilful and wanton disregard for the safety of others, such as was the case with the asbestos industry in regard to knowingly poisoning workers, juries have awarded punitive damages in the amounts of millions of dollars.
This is not to say that punitive damages are available in every case, or even most cases, but they are something that should be discussed during a free consultation with an experienced Boston asbestos attorney. Plaintiffs and their families should not be worried about not being able to afford and experienced mesothelioma attorney because these cases are typically handled on a contingency fee basis. This means that there will be no legal fees unless the plaintiff is successful in obtaining proceeds from a settlement or obtaining money from a jury verdict following trial.
The amount of the legal fee eventually owed will typically be between 33 and 40 percent of the proceeds depending on how complex the case is and how far it proceeds. If the case settles prior to filing a lawsuit, there will generally be lower legal fees than if a case is eventually filed. If the case goes to trial, the fees will be on the higher-end of the sliding scale to reflect the amount of time and effort putting into prosecuting the case. Again, this is something that a plaintiff or a plaintiff’s family can discuss during the free initial consultation with a Boston mesothelioma lawyer. There are also often costs associated with a lawsuit, but that money is also generally advanced and only owed by the client if the case is results in a successful outcome in the form of a monetary settlement or jury verdict should the case go to trial.
If you or a loved one is diagnosed with mesothelioma in Boston, call for a free and confidential appointment at (617) 777-7777.
School closed after burst pipe damages water tiles, January 2, 2018, The Boston Herald
More Blog Entries:
Montana Settles Asbestos Claims for $25M, Feb. 19, 2017, Boston Mesothelioma Lawyer Blog