If you or a loved one has been exposed to mesothelioma, contact us today for a free and confidential consultation. We represent clients in all areas of Washington State and Idaho. We are familiar with how you may have been exposed to mesothelioma from Seattle to Libby, Montana.
What is mesothelium?
The mesothelium is a thin layer of tissue that covers many of our organs like the lungs, heart and stomach. Mesothelioma is a malignant form of cancer that’s caused by asbestos exposure. There’s no cure for it, and once a person has it, the prognosis is poor. Only about nine percent of people diagnosed with mesothelioma are still alive five years after their diagnosis.
Types of asbestos
Asbestos is a mineral. It’s durable, and it’s known to be resistant to heat, fire and many chemicals. There are six types of the mineral, and those are divided into two categories. Those are:
- Serpentine asbestos which consists of long curly fibers
- Amphibole asbestos that’s made of long, brittle and sharp fibers
Although both types are dangerous, given its needle-like shape, amphibole asbestos is by far the most dangerous of the two.
Symptoms can be delayed for decades
As per the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 2,000 people per year are diagnosed with mesothelioma in the United States. People who have worked with asbestos or who have been around it carry the highest risk of developing the disease. What comes to issue from a legal standpoint is that 20 to 50 years ordinarily pass before a victim even starts showing symptoms.
Once a person develops mesothelioma, it’s classified by where in the victim’s body it develops. The cancer most commonly develops in three areas. Those are:
- In the lungs after breathing asbestos fibers
- In the abdomen from swallowing asbestos fibers
- In the pericardium surrounding the heart most likely from breathing asbestos fibers
How does asbestos cause mesothelioma?
Researchers know that asbestos can kill cells. On that basis, dead cells shouldn’t be able to grow and form a tumor. but an international research team formed at the University of Hawaii found that when asbestos does kill cells, a certain molecule is released that promotes tumor growth. Other researchers believe this to be attributable to DNA damage that results in mutation.
Mesothelioma in the State of Washington
King County has suffered nearly 1,000 asbestos-related deaths. With such a small population, Washington ranks eighth in the nation for deaths attributable to malignant mesothelioma. That surprising rank is primarily due to the number of people who work at shipbuilding and ship repair facilities. Although states like Ohio and Michigan are far more populated and industrialized, Washington ranks ahead of them on deaths caused by malignant mesothelioma.
The Puget Sound Naval Shipyard
The shipyard is massive. It consists of 327 acres of land and another 338 acres of water. Other smaller shipyards dot the area. Asbestos was once widely used in the construction and repair of every ship that came out of these locations. With that construction, repair and maintenance of ships, a significant amount of asbestos dust was in the air, particularly for those who worked below deck. The U.S. Navy used asbestos at these yards until almost 1980. As early as 1970, 21 percent of all pipe coverers and insulators at PSNS were found to have pulmonary abnormalities. Nobody knows how many other workers were affected.
The Libby story
Libby is a town in a western Montana valley with a population of about 12,000. Nearly all of the area’s residents are directly or indirectly employed through logging or vermiculite mining. From 1920 until 1990, about 70 percent of all vermiculite that was sold in the United States came from a mine outside of Libby. That same mine contained asbestos, so mixed in with vermiculite was that asbestos. Libby mine vermiculite was often sold under a product name called Zonolite. It was used to insulate walls and attics in homes and other buildings across the country.
“Nuisance dust” or death dust?
For more than 40 years, death from lung disease has been widespread in and around Libby. Although vermiculite mine workers were breathing asbestos fibers, their employer labeled it as “nuisance dust.” When the employees came home from work, that white dust was spread to carpets, curtains, kitchen tables, living room chairs, beds and laundry rooms. Entire families breathed it daily, and as a result, the asbestos toll on the local population is stunning. Whether they mined vermiculate or not, at least one out of every 40 residents in the area has died from illnesses related to asbestos.
A continuing environmental disaster
Given how asbestos can lay dormant in a person’s body for so many years before symptoms manifest themselves, more illnesses and deaths in and around Libby that are related to asbestos are certain to be diagnosed. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency labeled the Libby contamination the worst industrial contamination of a community in the nation’s history. Asbestos in and around the town and mine has been attributed to more than 400 deaths and 1,000 illnesses.
Spokane and mesothelioma
Lumber and paper were the backbone of Spokane’s economy for generations. In those industries, asbestos was used primarily for insulation. A wide variety of other industries also used asbestos. On the heels of all of those industries came mesothelioma. As per deaths attributable to asbestos, Spokane County ranks fifth with 126. Of those, 71 were the result of mesothelioma. More than 50 plants have been identified in Spokane County that are known to have used asbestos.
The statute of limitations for mesothelioma diagnosis
A statute of limitations operates to bar a personal injury lawsuit if it is not brought within a certain period of time. In the State of Washington, that period extends three years from the date of diagnosis for mesothelioma or any other asbestos claim. It can extend to three years from the date of death of a family member on a wrongful death case.
Contact a Spokane Mesothelioma Lawyer
Avoiding asbestos is the only way to protect against the possibility of an illness that’s attributable to it. If you know that you’ve been exposed to asbestos, or even if you think you’ve been exposed to it, and you develop a persistent respiratory disorder, early diagnosis and treatment are critical. Talk to your doctor about your symptoms right away, especially if you’re experiencing shortness of breath and weight loss. Then come see us as soon as possible for a free consultation and case evaluation. Financial recoveries to keep your family going can be awarded against the asbestos industry through the courts. Disability claims can also be filed through the Social Security Administration or a private disability insurer if you have one. Workers’ compensation benefits might also be available.
These cases are highly complex, and many viable defenses might exist. Your case requires knowledge, experience and legal skills. We’re articulate about the severity of mesothelioma symptoms and what you’re required to live with on a daily basis through no fault of your own.