Vietnam Veterans and the Risk of Asbestos Exposure

vietnam veterans Vietnam veterans face a major health risk as a result of exposure to asbestos exposure. Asbestos exposure is the sole cause of mesothelioma, a fatal cancer affecting the cells lining vital organs. Because mesothelioma takes decades to emerge, many veterans of the Vietnam War who were exposed to asbestos during their service may only now be ill from this dreadful disease.

It is tragically ironic that the brave people who fought for our country during the Vietnam War survived the risks associated with military conflict in hostile enemy territory only to now face a life-threatening illness from the hidden danger of exposure to asbestos while on active duty.

Vietnam Military Personnel Who Might Have Suffered Asbestos Exposure

Asbestos exposure may have occurred among the 9,087,000 total veterans who served in Vietnam, especially during the most active years of US involvement from 1965 to 1975. Those affected could have included:

3,403,100 (including 514,300 offshore) veterans who served in the Southeast Asia Theater – Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, flight crews based in Thailand and sailors stationed in the South China Sea.

2,594,000 veterans who served within the borders of South Vietnam
( January 1965 – March 1973)

7,484 women who served in Vietnam, of whom 6,250 or 83.5% were nurses.

The number of living Vietnam veterans was recently estimated to be 7,391,000. These surviving veterans of the Vietnam conflict were likely exposed to asbestos during their years of service to our country. They may start to experience symptoms of mesothelioma after a latency period of as much of 50 years following their asbestos exposure.

Why Were Vietnam Veterans Exposed to Asbestos?

Veterans of the U.S. Military, many of them Vietnam veterans, account for nearly a third of all mesothelioma diagnoses because of the military’s heavy reliance on asbestos during most of the 20th century. Why? Asbestos was once highly valued for its heat resistance and fire-proofing qualities. This made it a useful material for every branch of the military. All modes of military transportation including ships, tanks, jeeps and aircraft contained asbestos.

Asbestos was used in electric wiring insulation, brake pads and clutch pads on jeeps, tanks and aircraft. Military housing and other buildings on bases were constructed with building materials containing asbestos.

It wasn’t until the mid 1970s, after public outrage and the first lawsuits over the toxicity of asbestos and its lethal consequences, that the military stopped using it. But this was too little too late for Vietnam veterans who had already been exposed to asbestos in the line of duty.

Where Vietnam Veterans Encountered Asbestos

Active members of all the branches of service in Vietnam–Army, Marines, Air Force and Navy – were in conditions with a high likelihood of exposure to asbestos. These veterans worked in repair shops stocked with asbestos-containing machinery, rode by land, air and sea in battle vehicles with asbestos parts, and lived in structures containing asbestos. Veterans of the Vietnam War were exposed to asbestos fibers through close proximity to:

  • ceiling tiles
  • flooring and flooring tiles
  • wall insulation
  • vehicle brakes, gaskets, and insulation
  • asbestos cement used for foundations
  • barracks
  • base operations facilities

The veterans most at risk from their Vietnam service are those who served in the Navy. All US battle ships commissioned between 1930 and 1970 contained tons of asbestos insulation in engine rooms, miles of piping running throughout the ships, and in the doors and walls as fireproofing measures. Although a policy was established in 1975 to end the use of asbestos and materials containing asbestos as a thermal insulation material, this policy came too late for the prevalent use of asbestos in the Navy during the Vietnam War. Asbestos fibers were also incorporated in:

  • tiles on Navy ship decks
  • electrical cabling in Navy galley ranges
  • piping system gaskets and packing

Asbestos Exposure Symptoms

Vietnam veterans were trained to be highly aware of signs that the enemy was approaching. Today Vietnam veterans need to be aware of signs of the enemy that may lurk within. Primary symptoms of pleural (lung membrane) mesothelioma include:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Coughing, wheezing or hoarseness
  • Blood in coughed up fluid
  • Fatigue or anemia
  • Chest pain due to accumulation of fluid around the lungs

Although these symptoms are shared by other illnesses, their presence combined with a history of service in Vietnam with likely asbestos exposure means it’s important to have a doctor test you for mesothelioma. If the diagnosis is confirmed, you may qualify for special financial benefits from the Veterans Administration. You may also have the right to compensation from companies that made or supplied or installed the asbestos that harmed you. If so, you could receive compensation either through a court settlement or from bankruptcy trusts set up by the companies. Either way, be sure to consult an experienced asbestos attorney.

 

 

Asbestos Exposure Bill Aims To Protect Workers, Families

asbestos exposureSen Dick Durbin (D-ILL) has introduced a bill, the Reducing Exposure to Asbestos Database (READ) Act designed to require manufactures, importers and those who handle asbestos-containing products to annually report information to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) about their products.

Asbestos Exposure Product Data Would Be Accessible Online

The proposed READ Act would require EPA to make this comprehensive asbestos exposure information available to the public in an accessible easily searchable online database.

The database would also list any publicly accessible location where products with asbestos have been reported in the past year and asbestos exposure may have occurred.

“Every year, far too many Americans and their families suffer the deadly consequences of asbestos exposure,” Durbin said in a release. “The goal of this legislation is simple: increase the transparency and accessibility of data informing the public about where asbestos is known to be present. This information will increase awareness, reduce asbestos exposure, and help save lives.”

Americans Remain At Risk For Diseases Caused By Asbestos Exposure

If passed, the new legislation would represent a giant step forward in protecting American workers and their families from the lethal dangers of asbestos exposure.

Asbestos exposure is the only known cause of mesothelioma, a rare form of cancer that affects cells found in the mesothelium, a protective membrane surrounding the majority of the body’s internal organs. A history of asbestos exposure in the workplace is reported in approximately 70 to 80 percent of all mesothelioma cases. Families of people who work with asbestos can develop mesothelioma from exposure to asbestos dust brought into the home on the worker’s clothes.

Approximately 2,500 new cases of mesothelioma are diagnosed in the United States each year. The average survival time of those with malignant forms of the disease is 10 to 14 months. In addition to mesothelioma, the inhalation of asbestos fibers can cause lung cancer and asbestosis.

Although the dangers of asbestos exposure have been known since the 1930s, the US has been slow to act on eliminating all asbestos use in commercial products.

New Bill Would Update 1988 Asbestos Exposure Law

The new proposed legislation would update and expand the Asbestos Information Act, signed into law by President Reagan in 1988. It currently requires manufacturers and processors of asbestos-containing materials to provide the EPA with a one-time report on their products. Because the law predates the Internet, the information on potential asbestos exposure is published only in the Federal Register and not easily accessible to the public. By requiring the information to be posted online, Durbin’s bill would give Americans a new comprehensive way to monitor potential asbestos exposure in products they may work with and purchase for use.

 

 

 

Kazan Law Proud to Sponsor Alameda County Phillip A. Harley Memorial Mock Trial Competition

Phillip A. HarleyCongratulations to Moreau Catholic High School in Hayward for winning this year’s Alameda County Philip A. Harley Memorial Mock Trial Competition. We are very proud to continue to sponsor this meaningful competition in memory of our dear friend and partner Philip A. Harley (1947-2009).

The Alameda County Philip A. Harley Memorial Mock Trial Competition is an annual countywide high school criminal trial competition designed to increase understanding of our judicial system and the processes necessary to create a just society. Teams of nine to 25 students study a hypothetical case, conduct legal research and receive individual coaching by volunteer attorneys in trial preparation, courtroom protocol, courtroom procedure, analysis and communication.

All this extensive preparation begins in the fall and culminates in a live mock trial competition held throughout January and February. Through their participation in the imitation trials, these Alameda County high school students get to learn and practice the roles of attorneys, witnesses and other courtroom positions. The winning team then represents Alameda County at the state competition held every March.

This year, following four weeks of competition between 14 teams, Moreau Catholic High School defeated Fremont’s American High School to win the competition. Moreau will represent Alameda County at the state competition on March 20 through 22 in Riverside, CA. This is the third straight competition win for Moreau.

Alameda County Presiding Judge Winifred Y. Smith delivered the final ruling at the Rene. C. Davidson Courthouse in Oakland. More than 100 Alameda County attorneys and judges volunteered to score and preside during the month-long competition.

All 14 participating high school teams will be celebrated at an awards ceremony and reception on March 10 at Moreau Catholic High School in Hayward.

At the reception, Judge Stephen Pulido will join members of our firm in presenting awards including best performances in the following categories: County Finalist Teams, Pre-Trial Attorneys, Prosecution and Defense Attorneys, Prosecution and Defense Witnesses, Clerks, Bailiffs, Journalists and Courtroom Artists.

“It’s not simply about who gets the highest scores. Over the course of the competition, we encourage and celebrate each student’s growth in skills critical to becoming a productive member of our society: working as a member of a team, analytical abilities, communication skills, and self-confidence,” states Alameda County Superintendent of Schools L. Karen Monroe.

We believe this is a wonderful legacy for Phil, a dedicated attorney who always made a point of supporting consumer advocacy programs including trial-related education programs.

Alameda County Phillip A. Harley Memorial Mock Trial Competition Teams:

  • Amador Valley High School (Pleasanton USD) – Winner of 2012 mock trial competition
  • American High School (Fremont USD)
  • Bishop O’Dowd High School (Oakland, private)
  • COIL Charter School (Fremont USD)
  • East Bay Arts High School (Hayward USD)
  • Granada High School (Livermore JVUSD)
  • KIPP King (College Prep, public)
  • Moreau Catholic High School (Hayward, private)
  • Oakland Tech High School (Oakland USD)
  • Piedmont High School (Piedmont USD)
  • San Lorenzo High School (San Lorenzo USD)
  • Skyline High School (Oakland USD)

 

 

Mesothelioma Costs and Health Insurance

mesothelioma costsMesothelioma costs need to be considered, unfortunately, almost as soon as you get your diagnosis. Treatments can be expensive and your mesothelioma costs can add up quickly. You can get help paying for mesothelioma treatment from your health insurance provider, Medicare, Medicaid, and possibly from financial assistance programs if needed. Once you and your physician have decided on a treatment plan, you will should gather information and map out a financial plan. Being prepared for your financial share of the cost of your treatment is important. Your lawyer can help by explaining when settlement funds may be expected.

Mesothelioma Cost Factors

Your mesothelioma costs won’t be exactly the same as another patient’s because your treatment plan will be tailored just to you. It’s good to get an estimate of the cost in advance of treatment, but keep in mind that things can change as your illness progresses. Blood tests, imaging, respiratory therapy, and additional medications may drive up costs. Many factors will influence the cost of your mesothelioma treatment – here are the major ones:

  • Type of Treatments: Surgery, Radiation, Chemotherapy, Biological Therapy
  • Duration of Treatment: Total Amount of Time Needed To Complete Treatment
  • Frequency of Treatments: How Often Treatments Are Scheduled
  • Treatment Setting: Home, Clinic, Hospital

How Health Insurance Can Help

Your health insurance, Medicare, Medicaid or private, should pay for most of your mesothelioma costs. Call your insurance provider and tell them your diagnosis and treatment plan, then ask about details of your coverage, deductibles, premiums, and co-payments. Speak to the financial director at your oncology clinic and make sure they accept your type of insurance. If it’s going to be a stretch to pay all the bills, ask about payment plans and financial assistance.

Ask about coverage for second opinions from health professionals outside the plan. If the answer is “no”, talk to your lawyer about options.

Negotiating Health Care Liens for Mesothelioma Costs

Keep in mind that if you have filed a personal injury lawsuit against those who exposed you to asbestos and caused your mesothelioma – and I hope you have – then your health care provider will expect to be reimbursed for your mesothelioma costs from your settlement.

Contact your attorney and have them negotiate the medical bills for you. That is what we do for our clients. We make sure by going through the medical bills line by line that our clients do not get stuck with bills that have been inflated in anticipation of a settlement or are for unrelated matters. We also remind the medical providers that they are required by law to help pay the legal costs of obtaining a settlement for reimbursement. This often leads to a reduction in medical bills that we always pass along to our client. From a starting point of medical expenses that initially could total over $100,000, our client may wind up paying only $30,000 – $50,000.

How the Affordable Care Act Can Boost Insurance Coverage

The Affordable Care Act may improve insurance coverage of your mesothelioma costs. The law:

  • Requires health plans to cover people with a pre-existing condition such as cancer
  • Makes cancer screening tests available at little or no cost to patients
  • Prohibits insurance plans from canceling coverage if patient gets sick
  • Prohibits insurance plans from charging sick people – including those with cancer – more for coverage than healthy people
  • Prohibits annual and lifetime dollar limits on the amount of a patient’s care the plan will pay for
  • Requires insurers to provide current policyholders and people shopping for coverage with a short and simple summary of their coverage
  • Makes sure that patients who take part in clinical trials are covered for their other health needs
  • Helps individuals with low or moderate incomes buy health insurance

How to Get Additional Financial Help

Even if you have health insurance, you may still need some financial help with treatment and prescription co-pays. Knowing whom to ask for that help is one way to get started. Speak with the financial director at your oncology clinic about payment programs, financial aid, and local organizations that may help with mesothelioma treatment costs. Your doctor is a good resource to check with about clinical trials, which may be available at no cost to you. At the hospital, check with their social worker to learn what financial assistance resources they may offer.

Bottom Line on Mesothelioma Costs

There’s no doubt that mesothelioma is a costly disease to treat. But even if cost appears to be a barrier to treatment, seek help – don’t skip the treatment. The longer you go without treatment after a mesothelioma diagnosis, the more expensive it will be to treat. To make a little easier on your health, your family, and your budget – prepare to meet the costs of mesothelioma treatment by knowing your treatment plan, understanding your health insurance, and seeking help with the cost of care. Your life is priceless so take these steps now.

Kazan Law Recognized as Alameda County Bar Leadership Firm

Kazan LawKazan Law is proud to be an Alameda County Bar Association (ACBA) Leadership Firm. ACBA Leadership Firms is a program that recognizes law firms of ten or more attorneys that have 100% membership in the ACBA (i.e., every one of the firm’s Alameda County attorneys is a member of the ACBA). That would be us.

As mesothelioma lawyers who are legal advocates for victims of asbestos exposure, we represent everyday people who have been harmed and strive to achieve justice for them. We experience first-hand the important triumphs of our great legal system that provides equal justice for all. This compels us to try to help people who face other forms of injustice. Because our expertise is in matters of law pertaining to asbestos and mesothelioma, we gladly support legal assistance for those who need it in other causes. We do this through supporting many wonderful legal nonprofit organizations. One of our favorites is the Alameda County Bar Association.

3 Reasons Why Kazan Law is An Alameda County Bar Association Leadership Firm

We believe that lawyers should support their local bar association. Bar associations provide many community services and work with the court to improve administration of justice. It provides a forum for attorneys to work together to address issues of concern in our profession.

Here are 3 key reasons why we’re an Alameda County Bar Association Leadership Firm. The ACBCA is the leading legal organization in this area that:

  • Seeks to provide legal help to all people living in Alameda County who otherwise cannot afford it.
  • Coordinates services of volunteer attorneys to provide pro bono legal assistance to Alameda County’s low-income population.
  • Promotes excellence in the legal profession and facilitates equal access to justice.

How the Alameda County Bar Association Helps the Community

ACBA matches low-income clients with qualified pro bono attorneys to handle complex pro bono cases. ACBA programs also include 30 pro per assistance clinics a month in the areas of family law, domestic violence, bankruptcy, guardianship, immigration, and landlord-tenant disputes.

Through these efforts ACBA also provides training, mentoring and malpractice insurance to our dedicated volunteer attorneys, paralegals, and recent law school graduates thus enriching the local legal profession.

For all of the above reasons and more, we are proud that all the mesothelioma attorneys at Kazan Law are members of the Alameda County Bar Association.

Mesothelioma Medical Treatment Power of Attorney

Mesothelioma Medical Treatment Power of AttorneyA mesothelioma medical treatment power of attorney is important to have in place. This document is officially called the durable power of attorney for health care. You may have already set up a power of attorney to designate someone to make financial and legal decisions on your behalf. This is different.

Specifying who will carry out your end-of-life wishes for mesothelioma medical treatment and exactly what your wishes are comprise the two main components of an advanced care directive. Your estate planning attorney’s services should include preparation of these forms.

Who Will Make Mesothelioma Medical Treatment Decisions for You?

The person you select as your power of attorney for mesothelioma medical treatment will step in to make decisions when you no longer can. This person is considered your agent. Most people name a spouse, partner, relative, or close friend as their agent. In California and other states, your agent cannot be:

  • your health care provider
  • an employee of your health care provider, unless the individual is your registered domestic partner or is related to you by blood, marriage or adoption — or you and the employee both work for your health care provider

How to Decide Who Should Be Your Power of Attorney for Mesothelioma Medical Treatment

When deciding who will be your agent for your power of attorney as your mesothelioma progresses, keep in mind that the most vital qualities needed are trustworthiness and dependability. You should also choose someone you think will be able to defend your mesothelioma treatment wishes if others argue against them — someone who would be persistent and calm under pressure.

It is also important to make sure that the person you name is willing and able to travel to your bedside if necessary.

Best Ways to Help Prepare Whoever You Choose As Your Power of Attorney

Your agent will have to start making mesothelioma health care decisions for you if and when you are no longer able to do so. This can be stressful for him or her. There are steps you can take now to lessen the emotional strain.

Collect the information needed for decision-making. Talk to your doctor, oncologist and surgeon now to start understanding your options for mesothelioma treatment at the end of life. Organizations such as your local hospice also may have useful information.

Discuss your end-of-life choices with your agent. As difficult as it is, have a conversation about your decisions with your designated agent and make sure he or she feels prepared to carry out your wishes.

Some questions to discuss:

  • Are there any medical treatments for mesothelioma you want or do not want?
  • When you are dying, do you want to be in a nursing home, hospital or at home?
  • What options for pain management and hospice care do you want pursued on your behalf?

Inform people of your preferences. Tell your doctor, family and close friends about your end-of-life wishes so they will understand and respect your agent’s actions on your behalf. Keep a copy of your signed completed advance health care directive in a safe logical place that is easily accessible.

Give a copy of your form to:

  • The person you appoint as your agent and any alternate designated agents
  • Your primary care physician
  • Your other health care providers
  • The health care institution that is providing your care
  • Family members and close friends

Asbestos and Farming and the Risk of Harm

asbestos and farmingAsbestos and farming is not what comes to most people’s minds. Especially today when local small-scale farms are seen as the most pure and natural way to grow food. Keep in mind that asbestos is natural, too. It’s a natural mineral that lies deep in the earth. And that’s where it should stay. But unfortunately a lot of machinery, equipment and construction materials on farms may contain asbestos. And exposure to asbestos can kill.

How Asbestos and Farming Becomes Dangerous

Asbestos becomes dangerous when it is airborne. If asbestos in farming equipment or an old building gets disturbed, asbestos fibers may be released. Old and brittle asbestos that crumbles into dust produces airborne microscopic fibers. You can’t see them and may breathe them in when you inhale. Trapped in your lungs, asbestos particles can trigger fatal lung diseases.

How to Recognize Asbestos

Typically, asbestos is hardened and fibrous. It’s usually light grey or off-white in color.

If you’re working with old insulation boards, roof sheeting or older vehicles, and see flaking or powdering where unpainted surfaces are worn, cracked or damaged, it might be asbestos.

But visual inspection is usually not sufficient to determine if a suspect material contains asbestos. Although the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) provides detailed guidance about how to safely collect samples that may contain asbestos, the American Lung Association recommends that you hire a certified asbestos professional to take any samples. Hiring a professional can minimize asbestos exposure for you and your family.

Where Asbestos May Lurk on Farms

You may find asbestos on your farm:

  • as an insulating material around pipes or boilers, or in panels between wallboards
  • as a friction pad in brake linings in old farm vehicles
  • in corrugated sheeting material in a roof
  • in products made from asbestos cement

How To Prevent Asbestos Exposure on Your Farm

Be careful when moving, sawing, drilling or breaking any structures which contain asbestos.

You can reduce the risk of releasing hazardous asbestos dust on your farm by:

  • using hand tools instead of power tools
  • making sure anyone working with questionable materials wears a face mask and disposable overalls
  • avoiding the use of a bristle broom when cleaning up – it could spread asbestos fibers

If asbestos on your farm needs to be removed, transported or disposed of, call in the pros. Remember, no amount of asbestos exposure is safe. It’s not worth risking your life to try to do it yourself.

The First Asbestos Court Case

asbestos court caseThe first asbestos court case, most people assume was one of the precedent-setting Johns-Manville cases in the late 1960s here in the U.S. They’re partly right. By the early 1970s, Kazan Law became involved with these asbestos cases and helped establish the groundbreaking legal remedy of filing a civil suit against a company in addition to workers’ compensation claims.

Unfortunately, this sea change in asbestos litigation occurred about fifty years too late for Nellie Kershaw, the very first documented asbestos court case.

Nellie Kershaw, an Asbestos Spinner

Nellie Kershaw’s short tragic life began in 1891 in the industrial northwest of England in a town near Manchester in a town called Rochdale. It was located in a region known as a center for the asbestos industry. She left school in 1903 at age 12 to work in a cotton mill. At the age of 26, she started working for Turner Brothers Asbestos. Her job title was that of a rover, and it involved spinning asbestos fibers into yarn.

Turner Brothers Asbestos was once the largest asbestos producer in the world. It owned mines in Canada and southern Africa as well as factories in the north of England. It was there that the mineral was processed into a spun yarn. In the early twentieth century the company boasted that ‘new uses for asbestos are constantly being discovered, the industry may be regarded as having touched only the fringe of its immense possibilities’. Nellie Kershaw’s death in 1924 at age 33 would begin to change that.

Asbestos Harm Denied By Employers

By the time she was 29 years old, Nellie began having the first symptoms asbestos-related disease. In 1922, she became too ill to work. By then she was married and had a little daughter born in 1920. A physician diagnosed that she was suffering from “asbestos poisoning.” Because her illness was related to her work, England’s National Health Insurance said she was ineligible for sickness benefits and told her she to seek financial support from Workers Compensation. But Turner Brothers feared setting a precedent that might lead other asbestos-sickened workers to ask them for money. They refused to pay any benefits to Nellie even as her situation became more desperate. Asbestos-related illness was not a recognized occupational disease then, and Turner Brothers instructed their insurance company to “repudiate the claim” as it would be “exceedingly dangerous” to accept “any liability whatever in such a case.”

Turner’s management wrote to Nellie’s doctor attacking his diagnosis. They wrote, “We repudiate the term “Asbestos Poisoning”. Asbestos is not poisonous and no definition or knowledge of such a disease exists. Such a description is not to be found amongst the list of industrial diseases in the schedule published with the Workmen’s Compensation Act.” But he did not back down.

Nellie herself pleaded in vain with her former bosses for compensation for her asbestos-related illness. In a letter that has been preserved she wrote, “What are you going to do about my case? I have been home 9 weeks now and have not received a penny – I think it’s time that there was something from you as the National Health refuses to pay me anything. I am needing nourishment and the money, I should have had 9 weeks wages now through no fault of my own.”

None ever came. She died in poverty on March 14, 1924 and was buried in an unmarked pauper’s grave.

Act of Parliament Gives Nellie a Posthumous Victory

Nellie’s premature death and her doctor’s insistence that it was due to “asbestos poisoning” forced the local coroner to initiate a formal inquest in court. Documents show that Turner Brothers instructed their attorney to attend the inquest and “evade any financial liability for Mrs. Kershaw’s death.”

Dr William Edmund Cooke, a pathologist and bacteriologist, called in during the autopsy to examine Nellie’s lungs, testified that he saw visible “particles of mineral matter … of various shapes, but the large majority have sharp angles.” When he compared these particles with samples of asbestos dust, Dr. Cooke concluded that the particles in Nellie’s lungs “originated from asbestos and were, beyond a reasonable doubt, the primary cause of the fibrosis of the lungs and therefore of death”.

Nellie’s death certificate, issued April 2, 1924 lists “Fibrosis of the lungs due to the inhalation of mineral particles” as the cause of her death.

What really brought the case to light was Dr. Cooke’s decision to write a full medical paper about it in 1927 and publish it in the British Medical Journal. In it, he gave Nellie’s disease the name by which it is still known: “pulmonary asbestosis.” It became the first asbestos case to be described in medical literature and the first published report of disease attributed to occupational asbestos exposure.

Dr. Cooke’s article prompted Parliament to call for a full investigation into the effects of asbestos. The results of the report led to Parliament passing the first Asbestos Industry Regulations in 1931.

However, Turner Brothers Asbestos never was made to accept liability for Nellie’s death, paid no compensation to her bereaved family and refused to contribute towards funeral expenses as it “would create a precedent and admit responsibility.”

This attitude continued, and spread to the US where it remains the practice of American asbestos defendants and their insurance carriers. But 40 years ago, specialized American trial lawyers like those at our firm began to stand up for asbestos company victims and lead the fight to get them justice. We have ’leveled the playing field’ and forced the asbestos industry to pay tens of billions of dollars to those they have hurt and killed. No wonder big business hates trial lawyers!

The Female Face of Asbestos Tragedy

England’s leading anti-asbestos advocate, Laurie Kazan-Allen, who heads International Ban Asbestos Secretariat and also happens to be my sister, recently wrote about Nellie Kershaw and other British female victims of asbestos exposure:

“Nowadays, Britain has the unwelcome distinction of having the world’s highest mortality rate from the asbestos cancer, mesothelioma. Historically, male mesothelioma deaths have dominated the statistics with, at times, six times as many male as female fatalities. Considering the lower death rate amongst British women, it is of interest to note that so many of the landmark cases through which the national asbestos reality has been revealed relate to the tragic experiences of female victims. In factories and schools, at home and at work, British women have paid with their lives for the asbestos industry’s profits.”

Kazan Law Earns #1 Ranking Wrongful Death Jury Verdict in California for 2014

Kazan LawKazan Law just made the number one ranking for the highest wrongful death jury verdict amount in California for 2014. We received this prestigious recognition by The Recorder, the nation’s leading legal publication, for its annual Top Verdicts for California issue. We are grateful for this honor and pleased that we are able to achieve top jury verdict awards for our mesothelioma clients and their families. This is especially important to us because of the tragic losses these families must endure.

$11,800,000 Jury Verdict Nets Firm #1 Ranking

An Alameda County, California jury returned an $11,800,00 million verdict in an asbestos wrongful death suit (Emily Bankhead, Tammy Bankhead, and Debbie Bankhead Meiers v. ArvinMeritor, Inc., et al., Alameda County Superior Court Case No. RG12632899) against Pneumo Abex LLC on January 15, 2014. Kazan Law Partner David McClain represented the Bankhead family. This follows a January 2011 verdict assessing punitive damages against Pneumo Abex LLC of $9 million along with compensatory damages for Gordon Bankhead’s pain and suffering and for his wife Emily’s suffering as she watched his disease progress and take his life. He died from mesothelioma in 2011 at age 68.

The Recorder – The Authoritative Voice of the Legal Profession

The Recorder is the leading source of key California legal news and information. For over a century, it has provided legal news that California companies and law firms rely on to stay up to date on all vital legal issues. In both its print and digital editions, it focuses on legal developments that are considered significant for litigation and judiciary matters.

The Recorder’s annual California Top Verdicts & Settlements issue is one of their most anticipated issues of the year. This important annual compilation list is based on Verdict Search, a comprehensive database of civil and criminal court cases, jury verdicts, legal judgments and settlements. The Recorder’s list highlights the top verdicts of California law firms from the year that just ended. It will be available on The Recorder’s site for the entire year.

Often rankings in professional publications can be illusory and are based on advertising purchased by a firm to achieve a “ranking” by the publication. Often, the bigger the advertising budget, the higher the ranking. But this is most definitely not the case with The Recorder’s Top Verdicts list. It’s a strict ranking by the numbers.

Kazan Law Ranked #2 in Top California Verdicts of 2013

This is not the first time Kazan Law has achieved a high rank in the annual Top California Verdicts list. Last year, we were recognized for having the second highest ranking for a product liability jury verdict in the annual Top Verdicts & Settlements in California list. This victory was the eighth highest among all verdicts awarded in California in 2013.

Kazan Law rated this honor for our June 5, 2013 jury verdict awarding plaintiffs Rose-Marie and Martin Grigg a total of $27,342,500 in damages for Mrs. Grigg’s asbestos-caused mesothelioma. Kazan Law Partner Joseph D. Satterley represented Mr. and Mrs.Grigg in court.

Mesothelioma Lawsuits and Statutes of Limitations

mesothelioma lawsuitsMesothelioma lawsuits are a breed apart from most other types of lawsuits. Because mesothelioma can emerge 10 to 50 years after exposure to asbestos, a mesothelioma lawsuit can be filed decades after the fact. Even if you are no longer working where the asbestos exposure occurred or if the company itself no longer exists, you can still file suit. But you have to be mindful about the statute of limitations.

What is a Statute of Limitations?

A statute of limitations is a law that sets deadlines for filing a lawsuit. Most lawsuits need to be filed within a certain amount of time. Once the statute of limitations on a case runs out, your time is up and you no longer have a valid legal claim.

The period of time during which you can file a lawsuit varies depending on the type of legal claim. Most are about two to four years. Murder is considered so horrible that it has no statute of limitations. This is why you read about a suspect being indicted for murder many years later because new evidence was found. I have often thought that knowingly exposing someone to asbestos and causing mesothelioma should be considered murder because mesothelioma is fatal.

What Is the Statute of Limitations for Mesothelioma Lawsuits?

In many states statutes of limitations usually give people one to six years (depending on the state) from the diagnosis or discovery of mesothelioma to file an asbestos lawsuit. But it’s important to act fast, because in a few states, including California, Tennessee, and Louisiana, the statue of limitations is only one year from diagnosis. Usually, asbestos bankruptcy trusts allow a three-year statute of limitations from date of diagnosis. But if any of the companies you believe are responsible for your asbestos exposure has declared bankruptcy and claims are being handled by a bankruptcy trust, you may have a longer time to present your claim to that trust fund. But I advise against waiting.

Why Mesothelioma Lawsuits Should Be Filed Soon After Diagnosis

It is important to act on mesothelioma lawsuits before the statute of limitations time period ends. True, money cannot restore your health or undo the damage done to your family by your illness. But it can help look after your family when you are gone and ensure that justice is achieved on your behalf.

Time is of the essence. Mesothelioma is a cruel disease that severely shortens life expectancy. There is no way to predict how much time you have left to live or to feel well enough to work with your attorney and provide factual information to strengthen your case.

Also keep in mind that in California and some other states, claims for pain and suffering become invalid after death. If you succumb to mesothelioma before the trial, your family will not be awarded any damages for your pain and suffering. Because of the urgency involved, the law often allows for quick trial dates for asbestos cases. It is in your best interest to act as quickly as you can to start your lawsuit.

Why You Should File a Mesothelioma Lawsuit

If you’ve been exposed to asbestos and diagnosed with mesothelioma, you may wonder whether it is worthwhile to file a mesothelioma lawsuit. The answer is “yes.” People who learn they are suffering from mesothelioma stand a very good chance of receiving substantial amounts of money in damages from companies that manufactured, installed, sold or transported the asbestos or from an insurance company or asbestos victims’ trust fund that has taken on a company’s liability. This is true even if the original companies have long been sold, closed down, or gone into bankruptcy reorganization leading to the formation of asbestos victims’ trust funds.

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