Understanding, Managing, and Living with the

Health Effects of Asbestos

Asbestos Lawsuit Results in $1.4 Million Award

July 22, 2013

Bloomington, IL An asbestos lawsuit has resulted in a $1.4 million award to the family of a man who developed lung cancer after asbestos exposure. Although the man did not survive his asbestos cancer, his family continued with the lawsuit and a jury sided with the family in its asbestos claims.

According to the Bloomington Pantagraph (6/26/13), Jake Lilienthal worked for the GM&O Railroad in Bloomington from 1957 to 1972. He was then transferred to Kentucky. It was during his employment at GM&O that he was exposed to asbestos, the family claims, which then allegedly resulted in his developing lung cancer. Lilienthal died in 2009, but his family continued with the lawsuit, claiming GM&O knew about the risks associated with asbestos, but did not warn employees.

A jury sided with Lilienthal’s family, awarding them $1.4 million.

Meanwhile, workers in Oregon have filed a lawsuit against a hospital and a contractor, alleging they were exposed to asbestos during a demolition project. According to the lawsuit, reported on by The Register-Guard (7/18/13), the workers did not know there was asbestos in the hospital’s HVAC system and therefore handled the material as though there was no asbestos in it, allowing asbestos particles to be spread throughout the worksite.

The lawsuit alleges the hospital and the contractor knew there was asbestos at the demolition site but did not warn workers and further failed to ensure safety procedures were followed to minimize or prevent asbestos exposure. Both the medical center and the contractor were reportedly fined for allowing the workers to be exposed to asbestos.

Asbestos has been linked to serious health problems including mesothelioma, asbestosis and lung cancer, all of which are fatal. Workers exposed to asbestos, which is often used as a fire retardant or insulator, can go for decades without showing signs of asbestosis or mesothelioma. Asbestos fibers can also adhere to workers’ clothing, exposing family members to the carcinogen.

According to the US Environmental Protection Agency, asbestos is used in building materials, friction products, packaging and heat-resistant fabrics. The material is frequently found in attic and wall insulation, vinyl floor tiles, roofing and siding shingles, and automobile clutches and brakes. When asbestos-containing material is disturbed, the asbestos can be released into the air, providing the opportunity for people in the area to inhale the particles, which can result in asbestosis, mesothelioma and lung cancer.