Hotel company admits to “mishandling asbestos,” endangering workers

In 2008, a group of asbestos workers were told by their employer, Indus Hotels of Columbus, Ohio, to scrape off 250 square feet of asbestos-laden material from the ceilings of the Ramada Inn and Conference Center at the Milwaukee airport. These directions were issued despite warnings from inspectors hired by the Ohio hotel company and its local partner, Amana Hospitality, that the decorative material contained hazardous asbestos fibers. Today, the dangers of asbestos are widely known to the public, making the actions of the hotel company especially egregious. It has been demonstrated countless times that Americans who were exposed to asbestos even decades before have developed serious asbestos-releated diseases such as the fatal cancer, mesothelioma.

After this incident, an inspection was conducted by the Department of Neighborhood Services, leading the City of Milwaukee to order the Ohio hotel company to carry out a more thorough inspection of the hotel for asbestos fibers before proceeding further.

Indus Hotels did not comply with this order from the city authorities. Instead, according to a complaint filed by Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen, the company continued to blatantly endanger its employees, and later instructed the workers to remove ceiling panels containing asbestos from the hotel’s pool area without inspecting them or taking proper precautions.

The workers had originally been hired to strip out drywall, plumbing fixtures, carpets, and furniture as part of the beginning phases of a $14 million renovation that would eventually create what is now the Crowne Plaza Milwaukee Airport Hotel.

Van Hollen also noted in his complaint that all of this work was carried out by “unlicensed and untrained workers who were not using protective clothing or water to limit asbestos emissions.”

The hotel company eventually admitted to “mishandling asbestos” during the renovation work, reported Milwaukee magazine, and will be paying the state of Wisconsin $80,000 in compensation.

Companies like this who recklessly endanger their employees should be held accountable. One top-tier firm that has been helping workers obtain compensation for occupational asbestos exposure for over twenty years is Weitz & Luxenberg.


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