Understanding, Managing, and Living with the

Health Effects of Asbestos

Plaintiffs Awarded $7.25 Million in Asbestos Lawsuit

April 2, 2014

Philadelphia, PA An asbestos lawsuit filed by the family of a shipbuilder who died of mesothelioma has been awarded $7.25 million in its lawsuit against RSCC Wire & Cable. The jury in the lawsuit found in favor of the man’s family, awarding both survival damages and damages for wrongful death.

According to the plaintiff’s attorneys, Edward Merwitz was 62 when he died of mesothelioma. He had allegedly worked with asbestos while employed at the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard from 1965 to 1970. Merwitz was diagnosed with mesothelioma in January 2010 and died six months after.

The lawsuit, filed by his family, was originally filed against nine asbestos manufacturers, but settlements were reached with all manufacturers except RSCC Wire & Cable. They alleged Merwitz was never warned of the dangers associated with exposure to asbestos, nor was he provided with any protection from the fibers.

The company claimed the products that Merwitz was exposed to that contained asbestos were not theirs, but the jury disagreed and found RSCC partially liable for Merwitz’s death. The company will pay a portion of the $7.25 million.

Although people may think asbestos is a concern of the past, for some employees it is still a very real concern. According to Staten Island Advance (2/26/14), a plumber at a university medical center has filed a lawsuit alleging he was fired for complaining about exposure to asbestos on the job. The plaintiff, James Pepe, alleges he repeatedly requested protective gear but was denied those requests, reportedly because of the cost of abating the asbestos. After filing a complaint with the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), Pepe was fired - a move he alleges was in retaliation for him filing the complaint.

Pepe’s employers have said his firing was not connected to complaints he made to OSHA.

Asbestos is a fiber used in insulation and many other products. It has been linked to the development of asbestosis and mesothelioma. Workers who have been exposed to asbestos may go for decades without showing signs of mesothelioma or asbestosis. So far, there is no cure for either asbestosis or mesothelioma.

Because of concerns about exposure to asbestos, there are rules about how it can be handled and what steps must be taken to protect employees who handle it, as well as rules on acceptable limits of asbestos exposure. Employers who fail to take proper steps to ensure employees are protected can face disciplinary action.

Lawsuits have been filed against many companies alleging employees and their families were improperly exposed to asbestos without being warned of the risks or being provided proper protections.