You’ve seen the ads during local news broadcasts and on late-night television. You might have heard about a friend’s cousin’s brother-in-law. Now, after a short discussion with your doctor that seemed like it lasted years, mesothelioma is real—your own reality. You have the cancer linked to breathing in asbestos fibers. What can you do?
Rely on your doctor and other health care providers for treatments. Make a plan to ensure you and your family can enjoy the healthy time you have left and are prepared for the future. And consider your legal options.
Since exposure to airborne asbestos fibers is strongly tied to the development of mesothelioma, chances are good that your fatal illness is due to a company failing to minimize your risks for breathing in asbestos. The naturally occurring mineral was widely used as an insulator across most industries and in buildings for much of the 20th century. Asbestos has also been found in personal care and beauty products that contain talc.
If your primary risk for developing mesothelioma came from doing industrial work, you may have grounds for filing an occupational illness claim against your former employer. Similarly, women who used body powders for years on end have been succeeding with product liability claims against Johnson & Johnson and other companies.
Use of Asbestos by Big Railroads
Our Virginia-based personal injury and wrongful death law firm takes a special interest in occupational illness claims brought under the provisions of the Federal Employers Liability Act. The FELA makes railroad companies that engage in interstate commerce—think Amtrak, BNSF, CSX, Norfolk Southern and Union Pacific—strictly liable when their negligence harms an employee.
Under the FELA, a railroad company must compensate a worker who developed mesothelioma after they encountered asbestos on the job without being properly warned and equipped to reduce their risks for inhaling fibers. Into the 1980s and beyond, trains were packed with asbestos. Brake pads, insulation around engines and in locomotive walls, and multiple other components contained asbestos. Masks and respirators were rare. Even training and tags alerting railroad workers to the dangers of asbestos were uncommon.
This unhealthy, life-threatening situation persisted even though company executives knew as early as the 1930s that asbestos exposure was linked to deadly cancers and debilitating lung diseases like asbestosis. Federal action in 1989 to prohibit nearly all uses of asbestos kept the dangerous material off new train components, but regulations included exceptions for older parts, rolling stock already in use and existing buildings. Even in 2020, it may not be correct to say that freight trains and railyards are asbestos-free workplaces.
How Asbestos Wound Up in Talcum Powder
Asbestos is sometimes found near talc deposits. Undeniable proof exists that this is the situation in mines that provide the bulk of the talc Johnson & Johnson uses to produce its brand name and generic talcum powder products. The company has known this for decades, but it never warned consumers about possible asbestos exposures.
Instead, the company ran ads encouraging daily use of Shower to Shower. When women who had never worked industrial jobs or lived in homes with asbestos falling from the ceiling started getting diagnosed with mesothelioma and rare types of ovarian cancer, Johnson & Johnson started arguing that there could be no way for fibers to enter women’s bodies. That science remains unsettled, but civil trial juries are mostly convinced by the medical and physical evidence that has been compiled.
Sadly, no cure for mesothelioma has been found. Early, aggressive treatment can slow progression of the disease and reduce some symptoms, but the only real way to prevent dying from mesothelioma is to never develop the condition. Companies that failed to protect workers and consumers from asbestos exposure can be held liable.
When seeking to do so, mesothelioma patients and their families must choose a FELA attorney or product liability lawyer carefully. Expertise and experience in handling mesothelioma claims matter, and working with a legal advocate who is geographically convenient can be important.
These types of cases often get complicated, and travel will be difficult for a client battling to stay alive or a family who is in mourning. You must be able to count on timely, personal service and the kind of attention that a firm you first learned about from ads on daytime television may not be able to deliver.
- Learn how mesothelioma can affect virtually any railroad worker
- Information about the link between asbestos and mesothelioma
- Watch this video where railroad worker injury attorney Richard Shapiro discusses crazy arguments used by railroad defense lawyers
- Check out this testimonial provided by our client’s son discussing his father’s asbestos mesothelioma case