Companies Hide Dangers of Asbestos For Decades

Companies Hide Dangers of Asbestos For Decades

Companies Hide Dangers of Asbestos For Decades

Diseases triggered by asbestos, such as asbestosis, mesothelioma, and lung cancer continue to be leading causes of U.S. occupational illness and death. Many people that were exposed decades ago are being diagnosed today.  Due to the long latency periods between asbestos exposure and disease development, diagnoses and deaths from asbestos-related diseases will likely continue at current levels for years to come.

 

America’s Deadliest Superfund Site: Libby, Montana

In the 1920s, the Zonolite Company began mining vermiculite – a material used in insulation and soil conditioners –  in Libby, MT,. In 1963, W.R. Grace bought the Zonolite operations. The mine closed in 1990 because the vermiculite from the Libby mine was contaminated with asbestos. While in operation, the Libby mine produced 80 percent of the world’s supply of vermiculite

For the first time in history, the EPA declared a Public Health Emergency in 2009 for Libby, MT due to contamination and asbestos-related disease. EPA Cleanup and Remediation Operations are ongoing to this day. More than 1,500 Libby residents are still being diagnosed with asbestos-related diseases. Thirty-nine Superfund sites across 21 states are former processing plants for the Libby contaminated asbestos.

 

Early Government documents and internal corporate communications reveal that asbestos was linked to severe health problems

Mesothelioma sufferers are victims of company misconduct and negligence. Most companies that sold products containing asbestos knew or should have known about the dangers of their products but either neglected to or should have done more to inform their workers or the companies purchasing their products.

  • The Bureau of Labor Statistics released a 1918 report noting unusual early deaths of asbestos workers.
  • An internal survey by Exxon in 1949 revealed that Trade laborers exposed to asbestos were at risk of developing lung cancer.
  • A 1958 inter-office memo of The National Gypsum Company warned, “the greatest hazard in your plant is men handling asbestos. Because……if you inhale asbestos dust, you get asbestosis.”
  • A 1978 internal memo within Babcock & Wilcox provided evidence that the company knew about the asbestos exposure but decided not to make the hourly workforce aware of the danger of the situation
  • A 1988 internal memo from Johns Manville Co. cited “the documents… show there was corporate knowledge of the dangers associated with exposure to asbestos dating back to 1934.”

 

Lawsuits bankrupted asbestos companies

The first significant lawsuits against asbestos companies started in the 1970s. The courts found in favor of the plaintiffs because the evidence showed companies knowingly put employees at risk of disease. Since mesothelioma is one of the more aggressive cancer types, the courts awarded large sums that bankrupted many companies.

 

Asbestos Trust Funds were established

Mesothelioma can have a latency period as long as 20-50 years. Fears were that paying out a sum that bankrupts companies would deplete funds for future victims. Asbestos Trust Funds that companies pay into annually were established to provide compensation for future claimants. Every trust manages investments that create more capital for asbestos victims. Today, there are over 60 active trust funds.

Those suffering from mesothelioma or lung cancer can hold companies legally responsible for their negligence and file a claim to recover medical expenses, lost income, and other related expenses brought on from an asbestos disease.

Mesothelioma patients have many legal options for filing compensation claims in the courts or through an asbestos trust fund. Consult Goldberg, Persky & White P.C. in mesothelioma cases to evaluate your claim and guide you through the compensation process! Contact us today!

Sources:
  • Libby Asbestos Site Libby, MT Cleanup Activities, U.S. EPA, [link]
  • “Asbestos Companies hid the danger for decades.”, EWG Action Fund (2004). [link]
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