A former University of Michigan football player and Ann Arbor policeman claimed before his lung cancer death that asbestos exposure at city hall caused his disease.
Vada Murray played safety for the Wolverines from 1988 to 1990 and then became a policeman in the college town, according to AnnArbor.com.
Murray was diagnosed with lung cancer in 2008 and died at the age of 43 in early April after the disease spread to his brain.
Before he died, Murray filed a worker’s compensation claim, contending that his lung cancer was a result of his exposure to asbestos and radon in Ann Arbor’s city hall.
Rough Conditions at Work
In an interview recorded before his death, Murray, who never smoked cigarettes, explained the conditions that police officers in Ann Arbor had to deal with.
“Some guys used to get so mad, because, you know, stuff was leaking on them,” he said. “They’d take their nightsticks and jab at [the roof], and it would just come crumbling down. Water dripping down the wall. There were pipes with stuff around them that you wouldn’t – you wouldn’t want to touch.”
Many police officers believed that the “stuff” was asbestos. In addition, city records indicate that the levels of radon in the basement and in parts of the first floor where police officers worked were seven times higher than the federal limit.
Asbestos Poses Grave Risks
It has been known since the mid-1960s that exposure to asbestos causes serious diseases. In addition to lung cancer, exposure to the naturally occurring mineral, which was once used as a flame retardant and insulator, can cause asbestosis and malignant mesothelioma, a rare cancer.
The World Health Organization estimates that such illnesses claim the lives of 107,000 people each year around the world.
Murray’s Family Awaits Opinion
AnnArbor.com reports that a Michigan Workers’ Compensation Agency judge will issue an opinion on the case, but as of yet no trial date has been scheduled.
An attorney told the news source that the damages in the case would be to cover medical expenses and lost wages.
Murray Missed by Many
The Detroit Free Press reports that hundreds of people turned out for Murray’s memorial service, which was held in Cliff Keen Arena in Ann Arbor.
“He was so much more than a football player,” Sarah, Murray’s wife, said. “Our love for him had very little to do with his football career. He was a father, husband, son and a friend.”