In July of 2008, Eric noticed he was becoming short of breath. He felt some pressure on his lungs and felt like there was fluid in his lungs. It took him until early August before he saw his doctor. At that time he had fluid removed from his chest cavity and felt great afterward.
Eric’s doctor, Dr. Andrew Ross, wanted him to see a specialist to find out what was causing the accumulation of fluid; so, he went into Alta Bates in early September for a biopsy. The next day, Steph Zlott was with Eric when his doctor came in to talk with him about what they had discovered. She said, “Well I wish I had good news for you but I don’t. You have mesothelioma.”
His doctor went on to say, “On the outside, if you don’t do anything, we’ll give you a year to a year and a half. You might have as much as five years if you decide to have treatment.”
Gwen went with Eric to see the UCSF oncologists who are known for their aggressive treatment of mesothelioma. He wanted a second opinion before he made any decisions. The diagnosis and treatment options were the same. Soon after the second diagnosis, Eric made the decision not to go through treatments or surgery for his mesothelioma. He did not want to be a “patient” for the rest of his life.
Eric had his ups and downs, but he seldom broke down. He did have some days of depression, but generally lived well in the time he had left.
Eric eventually decided to consult an attorney to determine if he had a viable lawsuit. Eric’s brother, Scott, had a friend who worked for the law firm of Kazan, McClain, Lyons, Greenwood & Harley and they agreed to take the case. They are considered the best law firm for any case relative to mesothelioma. Eric was very impressed with them.
Denise Abrams was one of the senior attorneys at Kazan, McClain, Lyons, Greenwood & Harley. When she met with Eric, she immediately felt a connection and came out of partial retirement to be the lead attorney for the lawsuit. Nearly twenty people from Kazan, McClain, Lyons, Greenwood & Harley worked on Eric’s lawsuit.
When Denise and a few others went to Eric’s home, they were amazed at what he had created in his home with his art. Seeing him in his own environment brought things even closer. Eric was so impressed with Denise that he left her a piece of art she had admired, a piece entitled “I Love You Still”.
It took about eight months before a few of the companies decided to settle. Once they settled, more followed suit, so Eric didn’t have to go to trial.
I was very fortunate to have met many of the people from Kazan, McClain, Lyons, Greenwood & Harley who helped Eric through this difficult lawsuit, which ultimately brought him the financial security to live out his final eight months. He bought himself a 2008 911 Porsche and I know he enjoyed the times he was able to drive around the Bay Area and to the beaches of Sonoma County.
February 27, 2010 was a sad day for all Eric’s friends and family. It was also a day of peace because we knew he had been released from the pain.
Denise Abrams recently wrote the following about this book. “Thanks for this lovely tribute to Eric. It was such an honor to represent him and his case will have a lasting impact for other workers with similar exposures. Eric was a true trailblazer and a quiet giant. We all miss him.”