Thursday, October 30, 2008

A History of Corporate Abuse: Mesothelioma

“My answer to the problem is: if you have enjoyed a good life while working with asbestos products why not die from it. There’s got to be some cause.”

This quote came from a purchasing director for Johns Manville corporation in 1966. Years later the company would face bankruptcy from being overwhelmed by nearly 16,500 asbestos lawsuits in what would become an important moment in the history of asbestos litigation.

For years large corporations like Johns Manville operated their asbestos manufacturing operations with internal knowledge of health problems and tried their best to control any information that hinted to the safety risks of asbestos.

It is a sad corporate legacy and one that continues to haunt the numerous dying and diagnosed men and women who seek compensation for their exposure. Some estimates put the number of exposed patients to nearly 27.5 million between 1940 and 1979.

It wasn't until the mid-1970s that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration began to regulate asbestos exposure. By then however it was all too late. New cases of asbestos related health problems will continue to be diagnosed every year at a rate of nearly 3,000 cases for mesothelioma alone. The reason is that asbestos related illnesses have long latency periods of up to 40 years before exposure can lead to cancerous formations.

According to Adam Raphael, "the best estimate of what lies ahead is a study published by the Yale School of Organization and Management in 1992. It predicts that there will be 200,000 asbestos-related deaths over the next quarter of a century at a cost to asbestos manufacturers and their insurers of $50 billion.”

With such liability it is easy to see why since 1985, nearly 16 major asbestos manufacturing firms have gone out of business. When they go out, it makes it nearly impossible for families to collect compensation.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

A Guide to Asbestos Attorneys

Asbestos attorneys help victims of asbestos-related ailments win multi-million dollar compensations. Over exposure to asbestos can result in life-threatening diseases. Medical expenses related to these diseases are often very high, and treatment may extend over a lifetime. Most of the victims are former construction workers. Very often, workers are not informed about the ill-effects of asbestos by their employers. Asbestos attorneys help these victims obtain damages from their former employers.

Asbestos lawsuits involve many complexities and usually take about six months to one year to resolve. These lawsuits require special knowledge and expertise. General practitioners would not suffice for such cases. Only attorneys who have ample experience in asbestos lawsuits can help you through the case. Asbestos attorneys have, therefore, emerged as a specialized lot. These attorneys can recover appropriate damages to cover medical expenses and rehabilitation costs for the victims. Asbestos attorneys usually charge their fees on a contingency basis, in which certain percentage of the compensation amount is given as fee. If the lawsuit fails, attorneys usually do not charge any fee.

A lot of asbestos attorneys have their own networks spanning over many states. Many of them even have their own websites, too. Most law firms specializing in asbestos lawsuits maintain a team of asbestos attorneys and investigators. This team is often backed by huge databases of records and depositions. Asbestos attorneys usually have to deal with all sorts of companies that do businesses involving asbestos in one form or other. Among the commonly litigated companies are mining companies, distributors, insulation contractors, brokers, and numerous other contractors where workers handle asbestos products. Contractors and site owners are held responsible for any lack of safety standards implemented for their workers.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

A Brief Overview of Mesothelioma

Introduction

Mesothelioma is a cancer which affects the tissue which surrounds and protects various organs in the body. This tissue is called the Mesothelium, and Mesothelioma causes it to become abnormal, divide without control, and invade and damage nearby organs. The most common form is pleural mesothelioma which affects the sac that lines the chest cavity and protects the lungs (the pleura). Other forms are peritoneum mesothelioma (which affects the abdominal cavity) and pericardium mesothelioma (affecting the lining around the heart). The tumours can be either benign (non-cancerous) or malignant (cancerous) although they are most often malignant.

Causes

Mesothelioma is caused by the inhalation of asbestos, a fibrous carcinogenic. These fibres lodge themselves in the lining of the lung affecting the mesothelial cells. Sometimes they cause scarring of the lungs (which is called asbestosis) but this is not cancerous. They can, however, trigger tumour growth between 20 to 50 years after they are inhaled (the average is 35 to 40 years). Asbestos fibres which are swallowed can reach the lining of the abdominal cavity where they play a part in causing peritoneal mesothelioma.

It is generally the case that the longer or more intense the exposure to asbestos the more likely Mesothelioma is to occur. However, there are cases of people getting Mesothelioma years after having worked with it for just a few months. The families of asbestos workers are also at risk as they would possibly have been exposed to asbestos fibres on the clothing of their loved ones.

The dangers of asbestos are now well known, but this was not always the case. Before the 1970s asbestos was a primary insulating material with little or no control in its use or handling. The resulting increase in cases of Mesothelioma is a direct cause of these past practices.

Symptoms

Mesothelioma is often advanced before symptoms occur. This means that the prognosis is not usually very good, with the average survival time for all stages of Malignant Mesothelioma being about one year. Symptoms resemble pneumonia, which coughs, breathing difficulties and abdominal pain being common.

Treatments

Mesothelioma can be treated by chemotherapy, radiotherapy or surgery, or a combination of the three.

Surgery

Extra pleural pneumonectomy is where the entire lung and a portion of the lining of the chest, the diaphragm, and some or the entire sac which surrounds the heart is removed.

Wide local excision targets and removes the cancer and a limited amount of the healthy tissue surrounding the cancerous region.

Pleurectomy and decortication removes part of the covering of the lungs, as well as the lining of the chest and portions of the outside covering of the lungs.

Pleurodesis uses a blend of chemicals and/or drugs to create an intentional scar between the layers of the pleura. Post surgery, the space created by the scar must be drained, using either a catheter or chest tube, and is then filled with a chemical which inhibits the accumulation of fluid in the pleura cavity.

Radiation Therapy

Radiation Therapy uses high energy x-rays to kill cancer cells.

In External radiation therapy a machine emits radiation in a targeted stream at a certain portion of the body

Internal radiation therapy uses needles, seeds and catheters to place radioactive substance directly on or near the cancer.

Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy uses cancer targeting drugs to stop the cells them from dividing and thus prevent their growth.