Former NYC Sanitation Worker Wins Over $4.7 Million to Date in Mesothelioma Settlement

Written by Gustoff Melman
Friday, 23 July 2010 19:08

For over 20 years, a New York City man who spent each day breathing in noxious fumes while collecting trash for the Department of Sanitation developed a serious form of asbestos cancer—not from what he could see and smell while on the job—but from the microscopic asbestos fibers from flaking insulation and vehicle brake repair work conducted at the Department’s garages.

The man, who was diagnosed with mesothelioma cancer, has been fighting his illness for almost eight years—a battle most mesothelioma cancer patients lose within their first year of diagnosis.

During his battle with his disease, his lawyers from the law firm of Weitz & Luxenberg have also been fighting for him, his wife and his adult children.  As part of his mesothelioma lawsuit, the man provided testimony about his work history and how he came to be exposed to cancer-causing asbestos.

During his tenure with the Sanitation Department, the man was assigned to department garages in the Bronx and Queens, where he worked as part of crews that completed trash collections in areas where daily collections could not be completed.  During the winter months, the man also drove and worked on crews that cleared snow and salted streets throughout the city.

He testified that when not on the road, he was required to spend his shift time onsite at Sanitation Department garages, where he routinely would bring trucks to the mechanics’ bays for service and repairs, as well as move trucks in the mechanics area.  While he did not perform brake repair work for the Department, he recalled that he was often in the mechanics’ area when brake repairs were performed, causing him to be exposed to asbestos.

He also related information about a Sanitation Department garage in Queens that was suddenly closed because of asbestos contamination: “…We were sent there to work at this certain garage… and went there to report in and there was no one there, it was locked up…They were doing construction work and one day — actually, the security man, which was a sanitation worker, said everybody is in the huts over there, they shut this place down for asbestos.”

In addition to his asbestos exposure while working for the Sanitation Department, he also testified that he had secondary exposure to asbestos as a child.  He related that his late father, who worked as an electrician at New York’s Brooklyn Navy Yard, worked in areas where asbestos was present, even though he was unaware of his father’s asbestos exposure history until many years later: “He would come home every night dusty, dirty; dusty and dirty.  And at the time I had no idea what it was.”

Diagnosis with Mesothelioma Cancer

Like virtually all mesothelioma disease patients, the man did not begin to experience breathing or other asbestos-related health problems until many decades after he was first exposed to the dangerous carcinogen.  He testified that when he saw his family doctor about his breathing problems, the doctor ordered chest x-rays that confirmed the presence of a large tumor. “Well, my family doctor, he just said how big it was, you know, 10 centimeters, 4 inches…”

The man underwent surgery, where the tumor was removed.  However, he had to undergo a second surgery several months later: “…I was in a lot of pain and I took another x-ray and they blamed it on the scar tissue and dried blood that was still remaining in the lung.  And I had to go back in and they put a couple tubes down me to drain out the lung.”

During his initial treatment and surgeries, the man also recalled that his doctors began to ask him questions about how, when and where he had been exposed to asbestos, and that his medical team had explained to him that his malignant mesothelioma was caused by asbestos exposure.

Worries about Health, Prognosis and Finances

Since his surgeries, the man testified that as a result of his lung mesothelioma, “…I can’t breathe as good as I used to breathe and I get winded very easily, can’t walk so far.”  He also related that since his diagnosis, he can no longer engage in activities he once enjoyed, which included bowling, horseshoes and bocce ball.

He also expressed worries about his wife of almost 40 years, who had been battling ovarian cancer for a number of years.  He testified his wife had taken on more responsibilities at home because of his own health problems:  “Well, especially in the beginning, I couldn’t do anything.  But even as of now, take turns at even walking my dog.  It’s hard, especially when it’s so cold out, she’ll help me there.  I couldn’t help with a load of Christmas decorations, little things.  She’s — she’s really doing a lot of stuff that I would do.”

At the time of his deposition, he and his wife were living on his pension and social security benefits.  Aside from daily living expenses, he testified that he was paying out-of-pocket medical expenses for his medical care, including some significant medical expenses not covered by his insurance.  He also related that his finances were being drained because of medical co-pays: “And every time I see a doctor, there’s $10 co-payment, you know, maybe just a couple hundred on prescriptions, $10 here, $10 here.”

Thanks to the dedicated work of his asbestos lawyers at Weitz & Luxenberg, he, his wife have benefited financially by over $4.7 million in mesothelioma lawsuit settlement proceeds.

About Mesothelioma

Mesothelioma can affect the lining of the lungs and the lining of the abdomen. When mesothelioma develops in the lining of the abdomen, it is known as peritoneal mesothelioma. Mesothelioma symptoms associated with peritoneal mesothelioma include abdominal swelling, abdominal pain, fever, weight loss, fatigue and anemia. There is no cure for mesothelioma but there are treatment options that can provide relief from mesothelioma symptoms. The mesothelioma treatment PDT (photodynamic therapy) uses light of a specific wavelength to kill cancer cells.

Weitz & Luxenberg Mesothelioma Attorneys

If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with mesothelioma, a Weitz & Luxenberg mesothelioma attorney may be able to help. Weitz & Luxenberg is a leading mesothelioma law firm that has recovered millions of dollars in mesothelioma cases. The firm’s clients include former mechanics, sheet metal workers, construction workers, electricians, plumbers and others suffering from mesothelioma. Weitz & Luxenberg asbestos attorneys have been recognized as the “Best Lawyers of New York” by New York Magazine. For a free, online case review from a leading mesothelioma lawyer, visit http://www.weitzlux.com. For more information on jobs that involve a risk of developing mesothelioma, visit http://www.mesotheliomajobs.com.

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Last Updated on Thursday, 05 August 2010 21:44


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