Former Navy Officer Diagnosed with Asbestos Cancer
Written by Jason Wentworth
Friday, 17 September 2010 22:37
A New York City man who served his country as a member of the U.S. Navy tragically discovered that almost 50 years after his Navy service the toxic asbestos-contaminated dusts he breathed in aboard ships would contribute to his diagnosis with asbestos cancer.
Sadly, the man’s high school job at a local service station, his long tenure for a global business electronic equipment company, and brake repair work on his family’s cars over the years also caused him to be exposed to the cancer-causing mineral.
Shortly after the man was diagnosed, he selected the prominent asbestos lawyers at Weitz & Luxenberg to help his family to fight for justice against the companies that manufactured the asbestos materials that caused his illness.
As part of his asbestos lawsuit, the man provided testimony about his military service, his civilian work and his eventual diagnosis.
The man recalled his first exposure to asbestos products came when he was a teenager, when he helped his father to install asbestos-containing sheetrock during a home remodeling project. He also stated that he worked for a brief time with his father at a construction site in the Bronx, where his duties as a laborer required him to assist and clean up after pipe coverers and workers in other trades whose jobs required them to handle asbestos-containing materials.
Several years after the end of WWII, the man joined the Navy. He first served as a fireman in the boiler room aboard a Navy destroyer. The man testified that he removed and replaced asbestos insulation, including pipe covering and asbestos cloth.
He was eventually assigned as a petty officer and supervised a repair gang aboard another destroyer. He recalled working with asbestos materials including “…the covering on the pumps, and inside the boilers themselves, the wrapping of the steam drums… the blowers…valves, gaskets, pipe covering, rings and the pistons.”
After being discharged from the Navy, he enrolled in college and obtained a part-time job at an area gas station. The man testified that he worked alongside the station’s mechanics and learned how to perform brake and other automotive repairs. He later testified the skills he learned at the gas station led to performing dozens of brake repairs on the cars he and his wife owned. Over the years, he also did the brake work on the cars driven by the couple’s six children. Unfortunately, all of these automotive brake repairs caused him to be further exposed to asbestos—still used to this day in automotive brake and clutch components.
Around the time of his marriage, the man testified he used the construction skills he learned as a teenager to help in the construction of his own home, where he recalled working with asbestos-containing sheetrock, patching materials and floor tiles.
Tragically, the man also faced asbestos exposure to asbestos during his 30+ year career with at the business electronics company. He testified that throughout his career, he would be assigned to work offsite for company clients, where he either directly performed or supervised workers who would lay computer and other electronic cables. In virtually all of these cases, the jobs required the “lifting, cutting and replacing” of asbestos-containing floor tiles.
“I Have Asbestos Cancer”
The man testified that while his health had been good over the years, after learning that he qualified for subsidized medical care and low-cost prescription benefits from the Veterans Administration, he and a friend went to register at a VA hospital.
As part of his medical evaluation, the VA doctors performed a full physical, where the doctor “saw problems” on the man’s x-rays. That testing led to learning of his diagnosis: “Yea, [the doctor] told me I have asbestos cancer.”
He initially underwent a procedure to remove two liters of fluid from his lungs. The man also had lung surgery: “…they broke my rib, scraped my lungs and attached the lung to the ribs.” Since that surgery, the man testified he underwent several courses of chemotherapy.
Outlook for the Future
Since he became sick, the man stated that he suffers from “shortness of breath, loss of strength, and inability to walk for any distance” and that he is no longer able to enjoy his hobbies of woodworking and carpentry. He also testified that he is no longer able to “take care of my house and all the maintenance.”
Sadly, while his doctors had told him he did not need additional chemotherapy at the time he gave his testimony, he also was told the “the tumor was still there” and that “it’s in both legs now.”
Despite being diagnosed with a disease that typically claims the lives of many asbestos patients within a year of their diagnosis, this brave man battled his illness for almost 7 years before succumbing to it. Throughout the remainder of his life and even after his death, he was able to provide for his family’s security by way of approximately $2 million in lawsuit settlement proceeds on his behalf.