If ever you’ve tried to read through a piece of proposed legislation, you know that it can be a daunting task.
That’s because bills are not designed to be literary works. Rather, they are highly technical documents, spanning hundreds or even thousands of pages.
Not so with regard to the resolution passed by the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate in 2009, designating each Sept. 26 as National Mesothelioma Awareness Day.
The resolution is relatively short – just a tad over 300 words. And, yet, in those 300-plus words, it manages to speak volumes about a health concern of enormous consequence for thousands of Americans – a matter known only too well by those of us at Weitz & Luxenberg, because our team of experienced personal injury lawyers has successfully championed mesothelioma victims for decades now.
However, on National Mesothelioma Awareness Day 2011, instead of our telling you what a fine resolution Congress crafted, you might find it more rewarding to read it for yourself. Here, then is, the full text of that brief but powerful resolution:
“Whereas there is no known safe level of exposure to asbestos;
“Whereas millions of workers in the United States have been, and continue to be, exposed to dangerous levels of asbestos;
“Whereas the National Institutes of Health reported to Congress in 2006 that mesothelioma is a difficult disease to detect, diagnose, and treat;
“Whereas the National Cancer Institute recognizes a clear need for new treatments to improve the outlook for patients with mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases;
“Whereas the need to develop treatments for mesothelioma was overlooked for decades;
“Whereas even the best available treatments for mesothelioma typically have only a very limited effect, and a person diagnosed with mesothelioma is expected to survive between8 and 14 months;
“Whereas mesothelioma has claimed the lives of such heroes and public servants as Admiral Elmo Zumwalt, Jr., and Congressman Bruce F. Vento;
“Whereas many mesothelioma victims were exposed to asbestos while serving in the Navy;
“Whereas it is believed that many of the firefighters, police officers, and rescue workers who served at Ground Zero on September 11, 2001, may be at increased risk of contracting mesothelioma in the future; and–
“Whereas cities and localities throughout the United States will recognize September 26, 2009, as ‘Mesothelioma Awareness Day’: Now, therefore, be it Resolved, That the Senate designates September 26, 2009, as ‘‘National Mesothelioma Awareness Day’’; and calls on the people of the United States, Federal departments and agencies, States, localities, organizations, and media to observe National Mesothelioma Awareness Day with appropriate ceremonies and activities.”
I came across this inspiring women, Michaela Keyserlingk. She lost her husband to a asbestos related cancer in December 2009.
You can read her story here.
It is unfortunate that asbestos has killed many people’s spouses; however, it’s worse when asbestos takes the lives of both a husband and wife.
One of the few touching mesothelioma stories I have heard involves a man who was renovating his farm. He was constantly exposed to many asbestos products. Whenever he came home, his wife would always hug him, and in doing so, unknowingly exposed herself to lethal asbestos fibers.
Months later, both husband and wife were diagnosed with one of the most lethal forms of cancer: mesothelioma.
Mrs. Ros Lee completes the Reading half marathon in honor of her husband.
On March 2011, Ros Lee, completed the Reading half marathon in honor of her husband who passed away from mesothelioma in January. Steve Lee was a member of the Reading Roadrunners. Before his death, he and the club raised £40,000 for the June Hancock Mesothelioma Research Fund.
Following his death, donations kept pouring in. People showed their support by sponsoring Mrs. Lee’s run in the marathon. After completing the race in 2.5 hours, Mrs. Lee said, “he’s my inspiration and I just wanted him to be proud of me”.
I’m sure he was proud.
Saw this on Mesothelioma Law News:
Apparently, John Vaughan worked at Aberthaw Power Station (pictured above) for thirty-two years. Like many electricians and employees at power plants, Mr. Vaughan was exposed to asbestos on the job. He developed mesothelioma in 2007 and died soon after.
Between his diagnosis and his untimely death, Mr. Vaughan filed a mesothelioma lawsuit. His wife took up the case after her husband passed, and last week she and her children received an undisclosed amount of compensation in an out-of-court settlement.
The Mann family, pictured above, lost their father Peter to mesothelioma last month. Widow Hazel recalled her husband “kept fighting until the end.” To honor the late husband, father, and plumber’s memory, the Hazel family raised £350 (the equivalent of $556) for the charitable trust Mesothelioma UK, according to the Worthing Herald.
The family collected money for the charity and handed out informational leaflet to passersby, warning them of the dangers of asbestos exposure. Peter Mann was exposed to asbestos during his time as an apprentice plumber, years ago, but only received his mesothelioma diagnosis this January.
Mrs. Mann told reporters that when her husband was diagnosed, “they asked him if he wanted to know how long he had to live and he said ‘no’.” Mr. Mann’s bravery and optimism could not slow the cancer’s rapid progress, and he died on the morning of June 14, 2011–a day Hazel will always remember:
“The morning before he died, he was in so much pain but he kept trying to get up to walk – it was horrendous. He didn’t want to die and he kept fighting until the end. My mother had lung cancer and it was bad, but she was in nothing like the pain my husband was. You just can’t imagine what it was like.”
Hazel and her children thanked everyone who donated, and hoped that their leaflets left an impact: “The number of people with mesothelioma will soon reach its peak, and it affects around 2,000 people each year. Although there is less asbestos around, people are still coming into contact with it and people need to realize you don’t have to work with asbestos to get mesothelioma [referring to second-hand asbestos exposure].”
Carpenter or joiner, lawyer or barrister: though the words might be different, the meanings are the same. And the same disease affects carpenters (or joiners, as some are called in England) across the Atlantic: mesothelioma, the deadly asbestos cancer that attacks the lining of the lungs and other major organs. In Blackpool, a town in northwest England, one family is dealing with their father’s recent death, which came shortly after he was diagnosed with mesothelioma.
Christopher Duck had been a carpenter and maintenance man at Blackpool Pleasure Beach—a seaside amusement park comparable to those at Coney Island or Wildwood, New Jersey—for over ten years. In 2010, Mr. Duck was diagnosed with mesothelioma. His widow Valerie is now suing Blackpool Pleasure Beach for negligence in exposing her late husband to asbestos. In a “writ”, or statement, the Duck family’s lawyer states:
“Many of the buildings on site [at Blackpool Pleasure Beach] contained asbestos, which was used as fire resistant panelling and for underlining ceilings, which he cut and drilled with power and hand tools. He was not given respiratory protection, except paper masks which were ineffective, and there was no ventilation despite the presence of asbestos insulation board.”
What makes Mr. Duck’s case all the more upsetting is that he took his own life after witnessing the suffering of a fellow hospital patient with severe breathing problems. Though people may believe that “mental anguish” (along with “pain and suffering”) is simply a made-up term, it is mental anguish from the knowledge of the suffering that lie ahead that caused Mr. Duck’s death. The Blackpool Gazette quotes the Ducks’ lawyer’s statement that Mr. Duck “had no history of depression or suicidal tendencies, and he would not have committed suicide if he had not had mesothelioma.”
This is a tragic case, and we hope that Mrs. Duck and her children receive just compensation for their terrible loss.
On the night when Steven Ward would have celebrated his fiftieth birthday, friends and family turned out for a Quiz Night at Bull’s Head in Repton to celebrate his life and honor his memory, and raise money for the hospice which took care of him in his last days. Mr. Ward died of mesothelioma in April of last year, according to this article in Burton Mail.
The article states that Mr. Ward’s mesothelioma was caused by his job “working for a now defunct car sales company during the 1980s, which brought him into contact with asbestos.”
Steve’s wife Sally said of the event: “Steve should have been celebrating his 50th birthday this year and we wanted to get everyone together to celebrate his life. Treetops Hospice provided night nurses to help with Steve’s care so that he could spend his final days at home, which was very important to him. I wanted to give something back to them.”
Mrs. Ward explains her choice of a Quiz Night as a fundraiser and birthday remembrance: “The idea of a quiz night was perfect.
Steve and I regularly played in the quiz before he was poorly.”
Though they raised money for a worthy cause, the Wards and friends have not been able to seek compensation for Steven’s untimely death: The company Mr Ward worked for no longer exists, and the family have been unable to trace the firm’s insurer, meaning they cannot pursue a compensation claim at this stage.
Despite these setbacks, the Burton Mail reports, Mrs Ward vowed to “continue her fight for the Government to set up an employers liability insurance bureau to help relatives in her position, and for more specialists in asbestos-related illness, to enable faster diagnosis and treatment.” These are worthy goals, and we wish her the best of luck in achieving them.
Though companies and the public often forget the families and widows of mesothelioma victims, the mesothelioma victims themselves do not forget. Making sure their family will be able to survive after losing the head of the household is a top concern of many, and it is heartening news to hear that mesothelioma widows/ widowers (and spouses of living asbestos cancer patients) continue to stand up for themselves in court.
The Madison-St. Clair Record reports today that four more mesothelioma and asbestos exposure cases have been added to the court calendar:
Mark Nuzzo filed the second asbestos lawsuit of the year in St. Clair County Circuit Court, while Gloria Hale filed the third; Marilyn Grapperhaus filed the fourth; and Joseph and Mary Bayer filed the fifth.
All of the plaintiffs are spouses of a mesothelioma victim, or the victim of an asbestos cancer, and in the suit filed by Joseph and Mary Bayer, the plaintiffs are a husband and wife. Heartbreak, anger, and economic need rank among the grieving wives and husbands’ reasons for suing. The new plaintiffs’ cases are as follows:
-Mr. Nuzzo is suing 55 companies for his recently-deceased wife Robin’s mesothelioma death. Nuzzo says his wife was exposed to asbestos second-hand. The late Mrs. Nuzzo’s father worked in a variety of jobs which exposed him to asbestos, which he carried into his home unknowingly via dusty work clothes.
-Mrs. Hale has filed suit against 45 companies for exposing her late husband Franklin Hale to asbestos. Franklin Hale died of lung cancer in 2009.
-Mrs. Grapperhaus is suing 20 companies for exposing her late husband to asbestos in his career as a sailor, carpenter, truck driver, and brick layer from the years 1959 to 2000. Charles Grapperhaus died of lung cancer in 2010.
-Mr. and Mrs. Bayer are suing 62 companies for Mr. Bayer’s exposure to asbestos throughout his career. Joseph Bayer has esophageal cancer, one of the many cancers caused by asbestos exposure.
Mesothelioma and related cancers (lung, throat, abdomen, esophagus) are painful, expensive, and fatal. What these wives, husbands, and in the case of Mr. Bayer, mesothelioma victims themselves seek, are not exorbitant sums. What they want, for the most part, is justice for workers like themselves, and financial security for the mesothelioma sufferer’s family.
The plaintiff’s stated reasons for filing suit are modest, to say the least:
Because of Robin Nuzzo’s death on July 22, 2009, her family incurred substantial funeral and burial expenses, according to the complaint.
Because of Charles Grapperhaus’ death on Sept. 8, his family lost his support and services and incurred funeral and burial expenses, the suit states.
Because of Franklin Hale’s death on June 19, 2009, his family has been deprived of his support and services and incurred funeral and burial expenses, the complaint says.
In his 16-count complaint, Mark Nuzzo is seeking a judgment in excess of the minimum jurisdictional amount, plus costs.
Whether a victim’s family seeks punishment for the companies that knowingly risked workers’ lives, compensation for the irreplaceable loss of a husband (in Mr. Nuzzo’s case, his wife), or merely the steep cost of medical and funeral services, they are entitled to that compensation. And thankfully, there are mesothelioma lawyers with the experience, size, and reputation to fight for mesothelioma victims’ families the way they deserve to be represented.
Just like with a doctor or a cop, you don’t want to need a lawyer’s services. But when you do need their services, it is good to know there are many experienced ones who can help.