Home Business Insights & Advice Implications of secondary asbestos exposure lawsuits for other materials

Implications of secondary asbestos exposure lawsuits for other materials

by Sponsored Content
16th Dec 21 11:02 am

The Mesothelioma Center has published an article explaining that although secondary exposure to toxic asbestos has declined considerably in recent decades, known cases of malignant mesothelioma caused by that type of asbestos exposure have continued to climb. This has lead to questions about whether other materials might face similar lawsuits in the future, as their health risks become more understood.

In a report written by Tim Povtak, The Mesothelioma Center explains that increasing awareness of the rare cancer has led to the contrasting trends and an expected rise in personal injury lawsuits involving secondary asbestos exposure.

“One of the reasons is that we are getting better at diagnosing the disease,” attorney Daniel Wasserberg, who specializes in asbestos litigation, told The Mesothelioma Center at Asbestos.com. “Years ago, a woman with classic mesothelioma symptoms, but with no obvious exposure, might have had her diagnosis overlooked. Today, with the advances in science and medicine, doctors are more likely to figure out the diagnosis if it is, in fact, mesothelioma.”

Povtak explains that Wasserberg, of the New York law firm Meirowitz & Wasserberg, was counsel in a recent case in Richland County, South Carolina, where a jury awarded $32 million in damages to Robert Weist, whose wife Kathy died of mesothelioma caused by the asbestos he inadvertently brought home on his clothes.

Jurors assigned liability to both Kraft Heinz Co., the premises owner, and Metal Masters Inc., the contractor that supplied the asbestos-containing materials used at the processing plant where Weist worked.

Povtak’s article explains that secondary exposure is much less common today, but the lengthy latency period between exposure and diagnosis of mesothelioma can be 10 to 50 years, turning past exposure into future health problems.

He goes on to explain that Kathy Weist was just 62 years old when she died. Her husband, father and uncle all worked at various companies throughout the 1960s, ’70s and ’80s, when asbestos use was prevalent. She never did.

“Younger people are being diagnosed now, and often the asbestos exposure was through the work of parents, uncles, stepparents or other loved ones bringing home the asbestos on their clothes,” Wasserberg said. “You don’t have to be working in a dusty plant all day to get mesothelioma. You can get it from a much lesser exposure. And we’re typically able to identify the source of the asbestos exposure.”

The article goes on to explain that imaging scans today, such as MRIs and CT scans, are more precise. Biopsies are taken sooner. There are specific blood tests and even breath tests that can be helpful in diagnosing the disease.

“It used to be thought these cases of second-hand exposure were weaker for an attorney because it was harder to show where the exposure came from,” Wasserberg said. “But with the right workup, you actually have a better chance of getting a sympathetic jury that really cares.”

Although the number of mesothelioma lawsuits nationally has declined the past two years, the percentage of nonoccupational asbestos-related cases for women has risen significantly, according to KCIC, a national consulting firm that manages litigation.

The mesothelioma lawsuits have led to speculation that similar lawsuits might follow for the material that essentially replaced asbestos after it was banned. Its successor,  Manmade Vitreous Fibres, more commonly known as mineral wool, has also been the subject of health concerns over conditions such as cancer, the respiratory disease Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) and skin irritations. One London-based solicitor said that it was likely that cases would start to be made, especially around construction workers who have been exposed to mineral wool without the requirement to wear protective gear. “It is likely we will see cases coming through and not only in the USA, but perhaps in Europe too,” he said, explaining, “there is a fear that the replacement for asbestos might be causing a similar risk to health as its predecessor. At this point, there is no suggestion that there are yet any secondary exposure cases. More likely direct cases from those working with materials like mineral wool.”

Leave a Comment


Sign up to our daily news alerts

[ms-form id=1]