Understanding, Managing, and Living with the

Health Effects of Asbestos

Asbestos Litigation in the News, but Not Always for the Right Reasons

January 8, 2014

New York, NYAsbestos lawsuits have been in the news lately, casting a negative shadow on people who file asbestos claims alleging serious health problems linked to their exposure to the carcinogen. Plaintiffs allege they or their family members were exposed to asbestos, putting them at risk of cancer, mesothelioma and asbestosis.

One lawsuit in particular has some critics of asbestos litigation up in arms. That lawsuit was filed by U.S. Rep. Carolyn McCarthy who claims in a lawsuit that her lung cancer diagnosis is due to asbestos exposure, according to Forbes (12/3/13). The issue is that McCarthy also reportedly smoked a pack of cigarettes a day for approximately 30 years. Both asbestos exposure and cigarette smoking have been linked to the development of lung cancer.

McCarthy’s lawsuit names around 70 companies as defendants, although McCarthy herself reportedly never worked with asbestos. Her claim is that she was exposed to it because her father and brother brought home asbestos fibers on their clothes. Critics of asbestos litigation argue that McCarthy likely had no greater exposure to asbestos than any other resident of New York and that her smoking likely contributed greatly to her development of lung cancer.

Asbestos exposure, especially continuous asbestos exposure, can lead to devastating illnesses including lung cancer, mesothelioma and asbestosis, all of which are life-threatening. There are workers who have been put in harm’s way by companies who failed to properly protect employees - either by failing to provide proper safety gear when they work with asbestos and/or failing to warn them about the risks associated with asbestos exposure.

Even workers today could be exposed to asbestos. Although there are regulations in place to protect workers from asbestos exposure, officials have hit some employers with fines for improperly exposing workers to asbestos without providing proper safety gear. And workers, exposed to asbestos, have filed lawsuits against those they believe are responsible for their exposure.

According to The Madison-St. Clair Record (12/18/13), two lawsuits were filed in St. Clair County, alleging workers developed lung cancer after being exposed to asbestos during their careers. The lawsuits allege the defendants did not show reasonable care or caution regarding asbestos exposure. The lawsuits are 13-L-579 and 13-L582.