Recent rulings discipline careless asbestos handling
Three recent verdicts represent the lack of care still associated with asbestos removal. In each case, the defendants either performed botched removal jobs or exposed workers to the deadly fibers without proper protection.
During the demolition of a vacant public housing facility in Buffalo, New York, two city inspectors failed at ensuring asbestos was safely removed and didn’t escape into the nearby community. William Manuszewski and Donald Grzebielucha worked for the city for many years and were trusted, law-abiding employees according to court documents. The pair admitted guilt for violating the Clean Air Act through negligent endangerment. Their clean records and visible remorse resulted in a sentence of one year’s probation in lieu of jail time and a $30,000 fine.
The next case involves a man who owned and operated a New Jersey-based asbestos removal company without ever receiving the proper certification. After assisting schools, churches, homes and daycares, William Muzzio Jr. was finally caught. In many of the locations, asbestos was left behind in the failed removal projects. The trial featured Muzzio accepting full responsibility and apologizing for his negligent actions and claims he never intended to hurt anyone. Regardless of intentions, he was sentenced to five years in prison and almost a $20,000 fine.
In South Carolina, Scott Farmer knowingly demolished an old mill filled with asbestos and failed to educate and protect the workers from the risks. During the course of the demolition, state health officials warned him multiple times to cease his work, but Farmer continued to ignore the requests. As a result of his blatant negligence, he will spend 41 months in prison and remain on probation for three years following his release.
Each of these cases involves an easily avoidable situation. Instead of doing the right thing, they chose the easy and dangerous way out. In doing so, they risked countless lives because exposure to asbestos can have deadly consequences.
The cancerous fibers wait silently in the body for decades before showing signs of their presence until it’s too late. Long-term effects include mesothelioma, lung cancer and asbestosis diagnoses. In most mesothelioma cases, the prognosis is less than one year because no cure exists and the cancer has often progressed too far for extreme treatment.
Asbestos removal is essential to public health, but when careless workers like these ignore the risks and proceed without caution, they face the consequences of their negligence.
AP. (2014). Anderson man gets 3 years for asbestos pollution. Greenville Online. [Link]
Haydon, T. (2014). Woodbridge man gets 5 years in prison for unsafe asbestos work in schools. NJ.com. [Link]
Terreri, J. (2014). City inspectors sentenced to a year probation in Kensington Heights asbestos case. The Buffalo News. [Link]