Mesothelioma Cancer Affects Navy Veteran 50 Years After Asbestos Exposure on Navy Ship

Written by Jessica Finkle
Friday, 03 September 2010 18:40

Mesothelioma Cancer News- A 72 year-old New York man looking forward to enjoying his retirement with his wife of over 40 years was dealt two crushing blows with regard to both his health and that of his wife.  Several years after his wife—a former registered nurse—retired after learning she had been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, the man developed health problems and learned he had been diagnosed with mesothelioma cancer, a life threatening disease caused by exposure to asbestos.

While he sought medical care from the top mesothelioma cancer specialists in the New York City area, his asbestos attorneys from Weitz & Luxenberg, a law firm that has been fighting for the rights of mesothelioma disease patients and families for over a quarter century, helped him and his family fight for justice.

As part of his mesothelioma lawsuit, the man provided testimony about his secondhand exposure to the cancer-causing mineral during his Navy service, his health problems, his prognosis and the impact of his diagnosis on his family.

After being drafted into the Navy after high school, the man served for one year before being discharged.  Five years later, the man re-entered the Navy’s inactive reserves unit and was assigned to a South Carolina Navy shipyard.

During his one year of Navy reserve service, he was assigned to work in the supply office aboard a ship completing renovations and during several shakedown cruises.  Tragically, even though the man testified that he spent almost 75 percent of his time working in the ship’s supply office, he still faced secondhand exposure to asbestos dusts aboard the ship.

“I Believe I was Inhaling Asbestos Fibers…”

When asked about his shipboard asbestos exposure, the man recalled that “both crew members and shipyard workers working in various compartments…were stripping asbestos from pipes, replacing it, plastering joints.”

The man stated that that he never personally worked with or handled asbestos or asbestos-containing materials “…except perhaps touching pipes and things that were in the vicinity of my bunk…”

He emphatically stated “I believe I was inhaling asbestos fibers….from the dust created” [by the work being performed by the crew and the shipyard workers] and that he also inhaled asbestos dusts after the ship began shake down maneuvers: “…any asbestos that was free because the ship was underway, and there was vibration, I would say, yes.  Under those circumstances, yes, I would be exposed.”

The man testified that after completing his one year Naval reserve service, he faced no occupational exposure to asbestos-containing materials in his civilian career as an electronics engineer.

Mesothelioma Cancer Diagnosis

In spring 2009, the man was hospitalized for pneumonia, where his doctors noted pleural effusions (an accumulation of fluid that develops between the layers of lung tissue and the chest cavity).  After recovering from pneumonia, he still experienced significant side pain and was seen for what was thought to be a hernia.

The surgeon who treated the hernia advised the man that the pleural effusion was still present, and recommended the man undergo a CAT scan.  He testified that he saw a pulmonary specialist, who “asked me if I was exposed to asbestos, which at the time asbestos it seemed like a very strange thing. “  He subsequently underwent a second CAT scan, and mesothelioma tumors were discovered.

He also testified that attempts to take a tissue sample were unsuccessful, and he underwent surgery to drain the pleural effusion.  A post-surgical biopsy confirmed the diagnosis of pleural mesothelioma.

The man was later referred to a mesothelioma thoracic surgeon in New York City, and was scheduled to undergo surgery to remove his left lung and pleural lining.  Tragically, he testified that once the surgery began, the surgical team discovered his cancer was not localized to the lung and pleural lining:  “…in the operating room they first took a look at the lymph gland, and unfortunately the cancer was there…. it wasn’t confined to the pleural cavity.”

Prognosis for the Future

The man testified he was scheduled to see his oncologist every six weeks, where he alternately would undergo either a chest x-ray or CAT scan.  At the time of his deposition, the man was not scheduled for either chemotherapy or radiation, which led to him describing his prognosis as “…I am on a watch, if you will…waiting routine.”   He also stated his oncologist had told him survival time was “…maybe a couple of years.  He did not give me a prognosis.  He did not give me any time span.”

Despite his doctor’s vague prognosis (based on the fact that the majority of mesothelioma patients succumb to their illness within the first 6-18 months after diagnosis), this brave man battled his disease for almost six years.

At the time the man gave his testimony, he and his wife were living on the joint proceeds of their pensions and social security benefits.  However, due to the hard work of his mesothelioma lawyer, during the remainder of this man’s life and even after his passing, his family has benefited financially by more than $4.3 million in mesothelioma cancer lawsuit settlement proceeds.

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Last Updated on Friday, 03 September 2010 20:51

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