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June 24, 2018

New York Mesothelioma Law Firm Belluck & Fox Wins $4 Million Verdict for Plant Worker Exposed to Asbestos

New York NY mesothelioma verdict, asbestos case

NY Attorney Joseph W. Belluck

Belluck and Fox is dedicated to representing mesothelioma victims across New York State. We are honored that the Dominick family allowed us to represent them and proud that we obtained the largest verdict ever in an asbestos case in Oneida County.

New York, NY (PRWEB) March 23, 2015

A plant worker who developed both mesothelioma and lung cancer after being exposed to asbestos products has won a $4 million verdict against the company who supplied those products, the nationally recognized New York law firm of Belluck & Fox, LLP, announced today.

After a trial before the Honorable Charles C. Merrell, the jury returned its verdict on March 18 in the Supreme Court of New York, County of Oneida, in the case of Nicholas Dominick and Lorraine J. Dominick v. A.O. Smith Water Products, et al. (No. CA2014-000232).

The jury awarded the Dominick family $1 million for past pain and suffering and $3 million for future pain and suffering, assessing 30% of the fault to Pacemaker.

“Mr. Dominick has suffered tremendous pain as a result of Pacemaker/Charles Millar’s negligence. His sickness could have, and should have been prevented. I’m grateful that the jury was able to deliver justice for him and his wonderful family,” said Brittany Russell, an associate attorney at Belluck & Fox who tried the case along with partner Bryan Belasky on behalf of the Dominick family.

Partners Joe Belluck and Seth Dymond provided assistance to the trial team. “Our law firm, Belluck and Fox, is dedicated to representing mesothelioma victims across New York State. We are honored that the Dominick family allowed us to represent them and proud that we obtained the largest verdict ever in an asbestos case in Oneida County. Once again, this shows that the jury system in New York works,” Belluck said.

According to court documents, between 1968 and 1973, Mr. Dominick worked as an internal grinder at the Chicago Pneumatic tool manufacturing plant in Utica, New York. The jury determined that Mr. Dominick developed pleural mesothelioma and lung cancer as a result of his exposure to bags of asbestos and asbestos boards supplied by Pacemaker/Charles Millar to Chicago Pneumatic, which were used in the plant’s annealing process. The jury found that Pacemaker/Charles Millar was negligent in failing to warn Mr. Dominick about the dangers of asbestos associated with the products it supplied. The case is significant in New York asbestos litigation, as it is the largest verdict ever levied against a distributor of asbestos products, and the largest asbestos verdict of any nature obtained in Oneida County.

Asbestos is a mineral that has been linked to lung cancer and mesothelioma, an aggressive and deadly form of cancer which results from breathing in asbestos fibers that become lodged in the thin membrane that lines and encases the lungs.

At trial, lawyers from Belluck & Fox presented evidence from a series of experts regarding the use of asbestos in heat treatment annealing processes, the causation of Mr. Dominick’s mesothelioma and lung cancer, the state-of-the-art evidence relating to the dangers of asbestos, and testimony about the cancers’ impact on Mr. Dominick. Testifying on behalf of the plaintiffs were experts Dr. Jacqueline Moline, Dr. David Rosner, and Dr. Uriel Oko.

Defendant Pacemaker/Charles Millar was represented by Robert Cahalan of Smith, Sovik, Kendrick & Sugnet, P.C, and called expert Dr. Frederick Schmidt to testify on its behalf.

About Belluck & Fox

Belluck & Fox, LLP, is a nationally recognized law firm that represents individuals with asbestos and mesothelioma claims, as well as victims of crime, motorcycle crashes, lead paint and other serious injuries. The firm provides personalized and professional representation and has won over $650 million in compensation for clients and their families. The firm has been named one of the top law firms in America by U.S. News & World Report every year since 2011.

Partner Joseph W. Belluck is AV-rated by Martindale-Hubbell and is listed in Best Lawyers in America, New York Magazine’s “Best Lawyers in the New York Area” and in Super Lawyers. Mr. Belluck has won numerous cases involving injuries from asbestos, defective medical products, tobacco and lead paint, including a recent asbestos case that settled for more than $12 million.

Partner Jordan Fox is an award-winning, nationally-recognized asbestos attorney. In 2013 he was named “Lawyer of the Year” for the New York Metro area by Best Lawyers in America after securing $32 million and $19.5 million verdicts in two separate asbestos cases. He is regularly listed in the annual Best Lawyers in America list and has also appeared in Super Lawyers. A number of his verdicts have been featured among the National Law Journal’s Largest Verdicts of the Year.

For more information, contact the firm at (877) 637-6843 or through the online contact form.


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New York Mesothelioma Law Firm Belluck & Fox Wins $4 Million Verdict for Plant Worker Exposed to Asbestos

Asbestos likely more widespread than previously thought

Naturally occurring asbestos minerals may be more widespread than previously thought, with newly discovered sources now identified within the Las Vegas metropolitan area. The asbestos-rich areas are in locations not previously considered to be at risk, according to new report that will be presented at the Annual Meeting of the Geological Society of America (GSA) in Vancouver, Canada, on Sunday, 20 October.

“These minerals were found where one wouldn’t expect or think to look,” said Rodney Metcalf, associate professor of geology at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, and co-researcher of the study. The naturally occurring asbestos was found in Boulder City, Nevada, in the path of a construction zone to build a multi-million dollar highway called the Boulder City Bypass, the first stage of an I-11 corridor planned between Las Vegas and Arizona.

Asbestos is a family of fibrous minerals which are known to cause lung cancer, mesothelioma, and other serious respiratory related illnesses when the fibers are inhaled. The GSA presentation will focus on the discovery of types of asbestos that geologists call fibrous iron sodium amphiboles and fibrous actinolite in Clark County, Nevada, and the geological settings that caused the unusual asbestos formation, said Metcalf.

“[Asbestos] is like a precious metal deposit, it forms at the confluence of several geologic features, which vary at each location,” said Metcalf.

In this case, it was a geological confluence of groundwater interacting with rock salt and a cooling magma body deep below earth’s surface to form the fibers and create this type of asbestos, said Brenda Buck, a professor of geology at UNLV and co-researcher of the study.

Later the rock was brought to the surface where it now exposed to rain and wind that can disperse it. This is the first discovery of asbestos in this kind of geological setting and it suggests the minerals could occur in other similar settings around the globe, said Buck, who has a background in medical geology.

Many regulations have been created to protect people from exposure to mined and refined asbestos, like fibrous actinolite, which the scientists discovered. But some naturally occurring asbestos is not regulated or labeled toxic under federal law, though they can be just as dangerous or even more toxic to humans, said Buck.

Naturally occurring asbestos can also be harmful and difficult to control, especially when it becomes dust and can be transported on the wind.

The research is being performed while the construction for a Boulder City bypass has been delayed due to concerns about the hazard of the naturally occurring asbestos. Boulder City has about 15,000 residents, and is about 32 kilometers (20 miles) from the Las Vegas metropolitan area, home to over 1.9 million people.

Scientists are still researching the amount of asbestos that is in the soil in the construction area, its toxicity to humans, and how far it can be transported by wind.

The new research Metcalf will be presenting could help scientists locate more formations of naturally occurring asbestos in areas that were not previously considered, he said.

“This means that there could be a lot of areas in the world that could have asbestos that we don’t know about. So there are people that are being exposed that have no idea,” said Buck.

The abstract can be found online at: https://gsa.confex.com/gsa/2014AM/webprogram/Paper250494.html

Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Geological Society of America. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.

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Asbestos likely more widespread than previously thought

Asbestos lurking

A $320,000 project to create an “environmental playground” adjacent to America the Beautiful Park has been halted pending further investigation of asbestos unearthed during excavation.

The discovery of buried asbestos tiles will delay the project for up to 120 days to allow for mitigation and regulatory oversight and approval, city officials say. The site, which lies on the southwest side of the park area and north of Cimarron Bridge, is enclosed with a chain-link fence and is not accessible to the public, according to the city.

In July, Colorado Springs Utilities was performing rough grading along Monument Creek as an in-kind contribution to the America the Beautiful Creekside Project, which is largely funded by Great Outdoors Colorado (“We’ve got your beach,” News, July 2). “During these activities, Utilities personnel encountered historical undocumented artificial fill material, which included potential asbestos-containing floor tiles adhered to concrete rubble,” Utilities spokeswoman Patrice Lehermeier says via email.

Lehermeier says the material, discovered in the ground less than 10 feet deep, was identified as non-friable asbestos, less dangerous than friable asbestos, which if inhaled is a known carcinogen.

“Utilities and City personnel have taken steps to stabilize the site for the protection of human health and the environment, which have included the removal of visible potential asbestos containing materials from the surface of the excavated areas and the on-site stockpile,” she says.

Utilities also notified the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, and the city has retained an environmental consultant to assist in following regulatory requirements. Utilities has applied a “tackifier,” a sticky substance that bonds to surfaces and minimizes emissions from the asbestos, which Lehermeier says is not a threat to water in the creek.

While Lehermeier says officials have yet to determine the exact size of the asbestos-ridden area, Parks Department official Chris Lieber says via email that the tiles are concentrated in 75 square feet.

“We are currently working with our consultant [Pinyon Environmental] to develop an estimated cost for addressing the asbestos-containing material,” Lieber says. “The overall project timeline is anticipated to be delayed by approximately 90 to 120 days,” which includes time for state regulatory review.

The creekside project aims to expand the floodplain, enhance riparian habitat, and provide a transition from park to creek. The work includes adding trails, boulders, logs, boardwalks and play areas.

“The project design is currently being re-evaluated to ensure protection of park users and the environment,” Lehermeier says. “To complete the rough grading activities under the original project design, around 2,000 cubic yards of additional soil needs to be excavated and removed from the site.”

It’s the second time in recent years that pollutants have emerged in the area of the park. In March 2013, Kat Tudor and Don Goede sued the city, alleging suspected cancer-causing contaminants blew onto their Smokebrush Foundation property immediately north from a demolition site at 25 Cimino Drive.

The city had been in the process of razing a Utilities building, which sat atop a site that hosted a gas plant from 1880 to 1931 and left behind coal tar, which contains carcinogens. The case is pending while the city appeals a District Court ruling that denied the city’s motion to dismiss.

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Asbestos lurking

Insurers sue asbestos trust for records, say they suspect fraud

By Tom Hals

WILMINGTON, Del., July 3 (Reuters) – Six insurance companies are suing an asbestos personal injury trust set up by a U.S. unit of Philips that the insurers suspect has been making millions of dollars in fraudulent payments to parties that cannot prove they were harmed by the company’s asbestos products.

In the lawsuit, the insurers are seeking access to trust records.

The insurers said the asbestos personal injury or PI trust set up during the 2008 bankruptcy of T H Agriculture & Nutrition LLC, a unit of Philips Electronics North America Corp, had been paying substantially more claims than originally forecast.

“Plaintiffs have a reasonable suspicion that fraudulent claims have been submitted to and paid by the asbestos PI trust,” said the lawsuit, which was filed on Wednesday in Delaware’s Court of Chancery.

The lawsuit is the latest in a string of legal and legislative actions aimed at shedding light on the trusts, which have been used for decades to compensate people injured by exposure to cancer-causing asbestos.

Dozens of companies have filed for bankruptcy in the wake of thousands of lawsuits and then set up trusts that collectively control tens of billions of dollars.

The six insurers were seeking to conduct an audit of trust records as part of a bankruptcy agreement with T H Agriculture & Nutrition, or THAN, Philips Electronics North America and the asbestos trust.

An attorney who represented THAN as well as the asbestos trust said the lawsuit had no merit because the insurers were offered the opportunity to audit the trust’s claims in compliance with the bankruptcy plan.

“They want to conduct a different audit than the one contemplated by the agreement,” said Sander Esserman of Stutzman, Bromberg, Esserman & Plifka in Dallas. “I suspect the lawsuit will not receive any traction in the courts.”

Philips Electronics did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

THAN filed for bankruptcy in 2008 in the wake of thousands of lawsuits by people alleging they were made sick by the asbestos the company distributed until 1980.

In exchange for setting up the $900 million trust, all future asbestos-related claims against THAN were directed to the trust.

The six insurers agreed to make installment payments to Philips Electronics North America based on the distributions by the asbestos trust. They said in their lawsuit they may have paid $25 million more than they should have due to the suspected fraud.

The insurers are AIU Insurance Co, American Home Assurance Co, Birmingham Fire Insurance Co of Pennsylvania, Granite State Insurance Co, Lexington Insurance Co and National Union Fire Insurance Co of Pittsburgh.

In January, a judge found in the bankruptcy of Garlock Sealing Technologies that personal injury lawyers had repeatedly sought claims from asbestos trusts after their clients told courts they had no exposure to the products the trusts were compensating for.

Federal and state lawmakers have also proposed bills that would increase disclosure from the asbestos trusts.

The case is AIU Insurance Co et al v Philips Electronics North America Corp et al, Delaware Court of Chancery, No. 9852.

(Reporting by Tom Hals in Wilmington, Delaware; Editing by David Gregorio)

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Insurers sue asbestos trust for records, say they suspect fraud

Geologists find natural asbestos fibers in Nevada

LAS VEGAS — Removing asbestos from an old building can be hazardous and expensive. So what happens if the ground outside is covered with the stuff for miles around?

Thats what a team of University of Nevada, Las Vegas geologists is trying to figure out after the surprise discovery of potentially toxic, asbestos-type minerals in rocks and dust from Boulder City to the southeastern edge of the Las Vegas Valley.

UNLV geology professor Brenda Buck said this marks the first discovery of naturally occurring asbestos fibers in Southern Nevada.

A peer-reviewed study detailing the find was published last month in the journal of the Soil Science Society of America.

So how worried should everyone be?

At this point we know enough to know there is a hazard. We dont know what the risk is, Buck told the Las Vegas Review-Journal. Theres a lot of work that needs to be done. Until we know more, it would be a good idea to avoid dust from those areas.

That could be a tall order.

The study area takes in all of Boulder City and a wide swath of the Eldorado Valley, with tendrils that reach to the shore of Lake Mead and into the oldest parts of Henderson.

Its not everywhere, but I think youre going to have a hard time not finding it, Buck said. In every sample we looked at we found it. We found it pretty easily, too. I didnt have to look very hard.

For one test, Buck spent about three hours walking her horse along a dirt road in Boulder City. When she was done, she found asbestos fibers on her pants and her shoes.

The last thing we want to do is upset people or cause a panic. But on the other side, we dont want to give people assurances we cant give, said UNLV geologist Rodney Metcalf, who partnered with Buck on the study. We cant in good conscience say theres no problem.

The long, thin minerals were forged roughly 13 million years ago in the roots of volcanoes, also known as plutons.

Boulder City sits on top of one of these plutons, Metcalf said.

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The fibers have been weathering from the ground for the past 12 million years or so, giving them plenty of time to spread out, Buck said.

She specializes in something called medical geology, basically the study of the health impacts of minerals. She was in the midst of sampling arsenic in the dust blowing from Nellis Dunes when she came across a fibrous mineral in one of her samples. She later started talking to Metcalf about the asbestos-like fibers he was studying in northwestern Arizona, and the two decided to go looking for trouble in similar rock deposits in Southern Nevada.

What they mostly found was a mineral called actinolite, one of six types of asbestos regulated as a toxic substance by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Buck said she notified several people at the EPA about her discovery.

Asbestos fibers cant be absorbed through the skin, but if inhaled or swallowed they can spawn a range of deadly diseases that might not develop for a decade or decades.

The real pathway to humans is in the air, Metcalf said. The fibers are too tiny to be seen with the naked eye and so light that they can stay aloft indefinitely once theyve been stirred up by the wind or the tires on a vehicle.

Asbestos exposure is linked to mesothelioma, cancer of the lungs, larynx and ovaries, depressed immune function, and other disorders.

Theres no known safe amount, Buck said. The good news is not everyone who is exposed gets sick.

Buck, Metcalf and company plan to continue their research and expand their study area under a three-year grant from the Bureau of Land Management.

That work will include taking a closer look at other potential trouble spots in Clark County, most of it contained within the roughly 1,200 square miles of desert between U.S. 95 and the Colorado River from Boulder City to the southern tip of the state.

Buck said the bureau wants to know more about where such deposits are and what kind of risks they pose. Theyre worried about their workers, she said.

Meanwhile, researchers from the University of Hawaii are in the early stages of tests to determine how carcinogenic the fibers in Southern Nevada might be. They also plan to conduct a health assessment to see if any documented cases of mesothelioma, a rare cancer closely associated with asbestos, could be the result of environmental exposure in or around Boulder City, Buck said.

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Metcalf said asbestos is actually a loaded term, with varying definitions used by doctors, geologists and environmental regulators. For example, he said, the fibers he has found in Mohave County, Ariz., do not meet the regulatory definition of asbestos. But that doesnt mean theyre safe. In fact, they are similar to those found in Libby, Mont., where so much toxic soil was spread around by a nearby mine that the entire small town has been declared a Superfund site by the Environmental Protection Agency.

You get this debate about is this asbestos or is it not, Metcalf said. Its really not the issue. The issue is, is it toxic.

Buck grew up in Montana and has cousins who got sick and died in Libby.

She said she started taking special precautions in the field after the first fibers were found around Boulder City.

As soon as I knew they were there, I sure as hell did. I wear a mask, Buck said.

The discovery also forced her to revamp her lab at UNLV to make it safer.

The whole point is dont let it get into the air. You cant just drag it in and expose everyone to it, Buck said.

For the same reason, Buck has decided not to take college students into the field with her to help collect samples as she normally would. She doesnt want to expose them to something with the potential to shorten their lives

Theyre just so young, Buck said.

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Geologists find natural asbestos fibers in Nevada