Asbestos Disease Progression And Asbestos Lawsuits
Asbestos fibers can be a silent killer. Many that die from asbestos-related diseases such as mesothelioma are diagnosed at a late stage in the cancer, when it is already too advanced to have effective treatment. Asbestos fibers are small, sharp, and can be easily inhaled. Once these fibers become embedded in the lining of an organ (such as the lung or intestine), cancerous tumors may develop. Since it often takes between 20-30 years from the initial exposure for mesothelioma to develop, people with exposure to asbestos in the 1950s, 60s, and 70s are now being diagnosed. However, there have been some instances of asbestos exposure and disease progression after only a few short years.
Peritoneal mesothelioma victim Kris Penny died just 12 years after initial asbestos exposure – an exposure that only lasted a short time as Mr. Penny only worked for about a year between 2003 and 2004 with a cable-pulling firm. Kris Penny pulled fiber-optic cable into asbestos-conduit runs using bursts of compressed air to move the string that dragged the cable between manholes. These bursts of air kicked up large amounts of dust that was contaminated with asbestos. Kris Penny did not know at the time he was breathing in heavy amounts of the carcinogen. Mr. Penny sued his former employer stating his employer not only did not tell him the conduit contained asbestos, but the employer had cautioned others within the company to not use compressed air – the tactic specifically used by Penny and his team. By 2014, Kris Penny was diagnosed with peritoneal mesothelioma at the age of 38 and passed away in the spring of 2016.
Companies relied on the fact that asbestos cancers typically did not become diagnosed until decades after initial exposure. Dr. Kenneth Smith was the medical director for Johns-Manville Corporation and in 1976, he testified under oath in a deposition that Johns-Manville knew their workers were sick, but failed to do anything about it. His confidential memo indicated that 8% of the workers were suffering from asbestos and deserved compensation, but these workers were never notified of their illnesses because they did not show any outward signs of being sick, or disabled.
This type of negligence from companies began a string of lawsuits that paved the way for modern asbestos litigation.
It’s unfortunate that today we are still dealing with thousands of people each year WHO are suffering from an asbestos-related disease, even though asbestos is heavily regulated in the United States and IS illegal to mine. Many companies today, like the one Mr. Penny worked for, are still not notifying their employees about the dangers of asbestos, or even whether asbestos is being used. As long as companies put their profits ahead of workers’ health, there will always be hardworking people who will suffer to some extent at the hand of their employer.
If you have an asbestos-related disease, it is imperative you contact a lawyer, and do so quickly. The statute of limitations to move forward with a lawsuit varies between each state and if you do not act quickly, your window of opportunity to file a lawsuit may expire. At Goldberg, Persky & White, P.C. we have represented mesothelioma and lung cancer victims in many states throughout the country, giving every client the personal attention he or she deserves. If you have any questions about your legal rights pertaining to asbestos injuries or other matters, please feel free to contact us at (800) 471-3980 or contact an asbestos attorney online here.
Jim Morris, Maryam Jameel & Eleanor Bell, “American’s ‘Third Wave’ of Asbestos Disease Upends Lives,” NPR (December 17, 2015). [Link]