Philip J. Farley III of Tampa Bay, Florida learned that asbestos needs to be taken seriously. Instead of testing his newly purchased apartment complex for asbestos and using proper abatement contractors, he hired cheap day labor to scrape the texture off the building’s popcorn ceilings. The workers created a substantial amount of dust and debris, which went through open windows and into the neighborhood while the rest was placed into wheelbarrows, trash cans, and trash bags to be sent into dumpsters. In doing this, he placed others in “imminent danger of death or serious bodily injury.” Since the workers were inexperienced and unlicensed to remove asbestos, they did not know how to remove it properly and safely. Workers were also not given proper breathing protection, endangering their lives even more. Before Pinellas County was able to check out what was going on, 120,000 square feet of asbestos was taken out of the building illegally. After this, Farley had to remove the asbestos properly, which took 6 months. He also paid an extra $175,000 in fines.
Farley pleaded guilty and is avoiding going to prison. He is receiving 48 months’ probation and has to pay $250,000 to set up a medical monitoring and treatment plan for those exposed to asbestos due to his actions. The treatments and monitoring will be done by the University of South Florida’s college of Public Health. Ninety people will have their health monitored because of their exposure to asbestos.
During the case prosecutors stated that his “primary concern was his bottom line, which is entirely reasonable for a businessman, but he is then responsible for those decisions.” The decision to be cheap and use low cost labor has cost Farley a lot more money than he possibly could have saved. If he would have surveyed the building and paid for licensed abatement contractors he would not have cost himself money or been charged for different crimes.
If you have lung cancer or mesothelioma and worked with asbestos, you may be entitled to file a claim. Call 412-471-3980 or fill out our contact form to speak to an attorney and learn your options.
Susan Taylor Martin, “Ex-owner of St. Pete’s Urban Style Flats sentenced on asbestos charge, ordered to fund treatment for exposed workers” Tampa Bay Times (August 28, 2018). [Link]