Asbestos dangers lurk on the periphery of every New York construction site

January 26, 2010 – Our client’s depositions were sometimes interrupted due to the pain of his illness or the nausea of his chemotherapy. Sometimes the attorneys had to reschedule a deposition because of his deteriorating condition.

But the 68-year-old Polish immigrant and father of four – who was diagnosed with asbestos-related mesothelioma last year – still managed to give gripping testimony about the dangerous work conditions he encountered in the New York City construction industry, where he worked as a common laborer from 1976 to 1979.

His testimony ultimately helped our law firm – Weitz & Luxenberg, P.C. – secure a $1.1-million settlement for him and his family this month against the manufacturers of the asbestos-made construction materials he encountered at dozens of job sites.

Brick layers, electricians and plumbers

Demolishing old apartment buildings back in 1976 – before asbestos safety regulations were enacted – was fraught with all kinds of health hazards, and from every angle.

Demolition work releases microscopic asbestos fibers into the air. Inhalation is still the most common route for developing asbestos diseases such as mesothelioma, lung cancer or asbestosis.

The job sites our client worked at were cancerous mine fields, made more dangerous by the asbestos dust-raising activities of other tradesmen employed on-site.

A symphony of dust

In those days, before the health hazards of asbestos were publicly recognized, tradesmen worked closely together like musicians in an orchestra pit. Brick layers, electricians, carpenters and plumbers all chimed in together. But what filled the air were not musical notes; they were invisible asbestos fibers infiltrating workers’ lungs.

For example, while our client cut and sanded fireproof asbestos-containing sheetrock, with toxic sawdust flying off into the air, the bricklayers stirred asbestos-tainted plaster and compound powders together in big drums, the electricians hammered into asbestos enclaves to install wiring, and the plumbers wrapped powdery asbestos insulation strips around heating pipes. Together, they raised a symphony of toxic dust.

Though asbestos is no longer manufactured in the United States, the number of mesothelioma cases is forecast to peak in the United States in 2010, say researchers at the Centers for Disease Control. There is an entire generation of retired workers still at risk because most cases of mesothelioma are diagnosed 30 years or more after occupational exposure. Our client, for example, worked between 1976 and 1979, and was diagnosed with mesothelioma in January, 2009.  Excerpts from his testimony follow.

Client testimony

How do you believe you were exposed as a result of the electricians work?

When they broke down the walls or they took off the plaster in order to put in the wires, there was asbestos in there as well.

 How do you believe you were exposed as a result of the plumbers work?

Because when those pipes are wrapped with that wrapping, there was asbestos in that as well, for sure.

 Did the plumbers have to remove that covering from the pipes?

The plumbers did it and we did it. We had to prepare it for the plumbers.

 When you were doing the laborer-type work, did you ever have to rip out old ceilings?

Well, yes. We would tear down the ceilings. We would tear down everything and apply new sheetrock.

 Do you believe that any of the old ceilings contained asbestos?

Definitely, the old ceilings contained asbestos.

 Were there any pipes running through the ceilings that were covered with asbestos?

Sometimes there were pipes.

 Did you have to disturb that covering or remove it?

The covering had to be torn down.

 Did you tear down that covering?

Weitz & Luxenberg, P.C.

Mesothelioma is most often the result of industrial workplace exposure to asbestos – and usually contracted through employers’ and manufacturers’ preference for profits over the health and safety of workers.

If you have been diagnosed with mesothelioma, and seek FREE legal guidance and answers while considering an asbestos lawsuit, please notify us through the communication form below. There is no cost to you until we win a settlement or a verdict in your favor.

Please complete the following questionnaire: