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January 17, 2018

>ANSA-ANALISI Fresh hope for families of Eternit asbestos victi

>ANSA-ANALISI Fresh hope for families of Eternit asbestos victi

Former company owner could face charges over 263 asbestos deaths

(ANSA) – Rome, November 20 – Families of victims of deadly
asbestos poisoning took hope Thursday after prosecutors in Turin
completed a homicide probe into former Eternit owner Stephan
Schmidheiny that could see him face charges over 263 deaths,
said ANSA sources.
That came one day after Italy’s highest appeals body, the
Court of Cassation, overturned an 18-year prison sentence
against the Swiss tycoon, whose now-defunct Eternit ran several
asbestos cement plants blamed for more than 2,000 deaths.
Grieving families of victims, outraged over Wednesday’s
supreme court decision, took hope from the Turin case as well as
from government pledges on Thursday to change the statute of
limitations law that led to the annulment of the sole conviction
in the asbestos environmental disaster.
Schmidheiny had been charged with failing to provide
adequate safety measures at the plants, but the high court said
the case had timed out.
Schmidheiny has denied the charges.
In a statement Thursday, the Cassation Court added its
remit was to deal only with the issue of an asbestos
environmental disaster from 1986, the year an Eternit factory
closed, rather than with individual cases of illnesses and
deaths.
The objective “was to ascertain whether or not the disaster
occurred,” the Court said in a note.
Turin prosecutors opened three separate cases related to
the Eternit factories, including one involving murder
allegations against Schmidheiny.
The second case refers to
Italians who died after working in Eternit plants in Switzerland
and Brazil, and the third concerns a major quarry near Turin
that produced asbestos and was connected to Eternit.
Premier Matteo Renzi meanwhile said he would change Italy’s
statute of limitations, a promise supported by leaders of the
Lower House and Senate who said they reached an agreement on the
procedure for moving Renzi’s bill through parliament.
“If a case like Eternit is a timed-out crime, then we have
to change the rules of the game on the statute of limitations,”
Renzi told RTL radio station.
“We can’t have the nightmare of the statute of limitations
(in these cases).
You cannot deprive people of the demand for
justice,” Renzi said.
“I was struck, as an ordinary citizen, by the interviews
with the families (of the victims).
They made me shudder a
little”.
About 150 people belonging to an Eternit victims group
protested Wednesday outside the Cassation Court including many
from Casale Monferrato in Piedmont, and others from different
regions of northern Italy as well as people from Switzerland and
Brazil.
Their leader Romana Blasotti, 85, lost five family members
to asbestos-related diseases, which can often take many years to
appear.
One of the most common diseases, mesothelioma, can take
decades after contamination to make itself known, making
liability hard to prove.
“We want justice, and we believe that we will have it,
after 35 years of struggle,” said Blasotti, whose husband died
in 1983, followed by a sister, a niece, a cousin and a daughter.
“When we started our battle, we knew we had to do it for
our young people…but we did not succeed.
The death rate in
Casale continues at a rate of 50 to 60 deaths per year,” she
said.
Paolo Liedholm of Casale Monferrato, who lost his mother to
asbestos-related illness, was bitter about Wednesday’s decision,
saying people continue to die with no recourse.
“Now we have clearly established this: if you want to kill
someone in Italy the best means is asbestos because it is
legal,” he said.
He added that victims believe the peak in asbestos-related
deaths has not yet occurred because of the time it takes for the
disease to appear.
Asbestos-linked tumours have been reported among Eternit
staff, their families and people living near the factories who
were affected by asbestos dust in the air, while hundreds more
fell ill.
Employees and their families have long claimed that Eternit
did little or nothing to protect its workers and residents
living around its factories from the dangers of asbestos.
The Italian National Magistrates Association (ANM) said
Thursday that it has been calling for Italy’s statute of
limitations laws to be changed for years.
“Magistrates have been raising the problem of the statute
of limitations for years”, Rodolfo Sabelli, president of the ANM
said.

Read this article – 

>ANSA-ANALISI Fresh hope for families of Eternit asbestos victi

Italy court annuls conviction for Swiss billionaire in asbestos scandal

ROME (Reuters) – Italy’s top court has overturned an 18-year jail sentence for a Swiss billionaire convicted over his role in the country’s biggest asbestos scandal, saying too much time had passed since the alleged wrongdoing.

Stephan Schmidheiny was found guilty in 2012 of negligence at his company’s Italian factories in the 1970s and 80s, which eventually led to almost 3,000 asbestos-related deaths.

However, in a ruling that stunned relatives of the dead, Italy’s highest court annulled the verdict late on Wednesday, saying the statute of limitations had kicked in.

The decision means that the Swiss businessman will also escape having to pay millions of euros in fines and compensation ordered by Italian courts in 2012 and 2013.

Prosecutors in the original trial said Schmidheiny had not taken sufficient measures to protect the health of workers and nearby residents from the asbestos used at the Italian plants of his building material firm Eternit.

The factories had used asbestos in the production of cement. The plants closed in 1986, but workers and local residents continue to suffer the consequences, with Italy’s biggest union saying that the latest victim of an asbestos-related disease was only buried on Saturday.

Prime Minister Matteo Renzi said the ruling underscored the need to reform Italy’s notoriously snail-paced judicial system. “We need to ensure that trials take less time, and change the statute of limitations,” he told RTL 102.5 radio on Thursday.

Schmidheiny had been accused of causing an environmental disaster — a charge which expires under Italy’s statute of limitations. Prosecutors said they were now reviewing other possible legal avenues to bring the case back to court.

Schmidheiny’s spokesman called for all legal proceedings to be halted, saying the company had already paid “many tens of millions of euros” in compensation to the victims since 2008.

The company said Schmidheiny had never played an operational role in the management of its Italian activities and said it had only been the major shareholder in the Eternit unit for 10 out of its 80-year history.

According to prosecutors, Eternit’s products were used to pave streets and used as roof insulation around its plants in northern and southern Italy, resulting in years of exposure for the unsuspecting local population.

Asbestos became popular from the late 19th century onwards as a way to reinforce cement. But research later revealed that the inhalation of asbestos fibres can cause lung inflammation and cancer. It is now banned in much of the world.

(Reporting by Isla Binnie; Editing by Crispian Balmer)

Source:  

Italy court annuls conviction for Swiss billionaire in asbestos scandal

Asbestos poisoning victims want Yale honor revoked

NEW HAVEN, Connecticut (AP) — Victims of asbestos poisoning in Italy are urging Yale University to rescind an honorary degree given to a Swiss man later convicted of negligence in some 2,000 asbestos-related deaths.

Stephan Schmidheiny, former owner of Swiss construction company Eternit, was convicted in 2012 by an Italian court and sentenced to 16 years for his role in the contamination of sites in northern Italy. An appeals court upheld the conviction for negligence in thousands of asbestos-related deaths blamed on contamination from the company and increased his sentence to 18 years.

Another appeal is pending and Schmidheiny is not in custody. He has denied wrongdoing.

Yale awarded Schmidheiny an honorary degree in 1996, citing him as “one of the world’s most environmentally conscious business leaders,” and praised his efforts to create sustainable development, the New Haven Register reported.

Lawyer Christopher Meisenkothen, who represents the Asbestos Victims and Relatives Association, said what happened in Italy is the exact opposite of what Yale cited.

“It flies in the face of actual history. This is a matter of honor for the Italian victims,” Meisenkothen said.

Yale said a decision to revoke an honorary degree must be by the Yale Corporation, the university’s governing body.

“The decision to award the degree was made by a committee that considered his full record as a philanthropist who used his wealth to fund sustainable development in Latin America and elsewhere, and a path-breaking international advocate of change in the way businesses address environmental sustainability, as well as a businessman who inherited and dismantled a decades-old family asbestos processing concern,” the statement from Yale said.

Yale should at least appoint a faculty committee to review the matter and make a recommendation, Meisenkothen said.

“A lot of this information was not available to Yale at the time they awarded the degree,” Meisenkothen said. “Yale is not our adversary. We just want to give them information they didn’t have before, so they can do the right thing.”

Some alumni and faculty, including 1992 graduate Christopher Sellers, have also urged Yale to revoke the honor.

“It shames me as a Yale graduate to think Yale isn’t willing to look at what it did here,” said Sellers, now a history professor at Stony Brook University. “For me, it’s pretty clear that if Yale had known in 1996 everything we know today, it wouldn’t have honored Schmidheiny with this degree.”

___

Information from: New Haven Register, http://www.nhregister.com

Original article:  

Asbestos poisoning victims want Yale honor revoked

Mesothelioma News Update: Resource4thePeople Applauds Italian Court for Sentencing Swiss Millionaire in Asbestos Scandal

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SOURCE:

Industrialist sentenced to 18 years after conviction for exposing workers to asbestos. U.S. workers still eligible for free consultations about their legal rights to seek compensation over mesothelioma.

San Diego, CA (PRWEB) June 08, 2013

http://www.resource4thepeople.com/occupationaldisease/asbestos-lawsuits.html

Resource4thePeople announced today its support of an Italian courtâ??s decision to sentence a Swiss billionaire to 18 years in jail for his role in an asbestos scandal in which prosecutors said more than 2,000 workers died.

Details of the courtâ??s decision were reported in a June 3, 2013 Reuters News dispatch, which said the courtâ??s ruling could set a precedent for work-safety lawsuits in Europe.*

Resource4thePeople also said that while such large-scale criminal prosecutions are rare in the United States it supports all local, state and federal authorities who fully prosecute asbestos offenders in the interests of worker safety.

Rescource4thePeople also said its national network of attorneys will continue accepting claims from consumers who may have been diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma or other asbestos-caused cancers and are seeking compensation for medical and other expenses.

Reuters reported that, â??Stephan Schmidheiny, found guilty of negligence that led to more than 2,000 asbestos-related deaths, was also ordered to pay millions of euros in damages to local authorities, victims and their families by an appeals court in Turin.â?

The news agency said Schmidheiny is the former owner of Swiss building material maker Eternit and that prosecutors had said Schmidheiny intentionally failed to install measures to prevent workers’ health being affected by asbestos at Eternit’s Italian plants, which closed in 1986.

â??More than 6,000 people – including former employees and residents of the four towns where the plants were located – are seeking damages in the case, Reuters said.

Mesothelioma is an aggressive cancer most often caused by exposure to asbestos and is diagnosed in between 2,000 to 3,000 Americans each year.

â??Unfortunately, because mesothelioma is a rare cancer it has not drawn much public attention,â? said Resource4thePeople. â??However, the disease has such a long latency period that more and more victims are being diagnosed in their 50s, 60s and 70s.”

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control, for instance, in an April 24, 2009 study,** reported that â??Despite regulatory actions and the sharp decline in use of asbestos, potential exposure to asbestos continues, but most deaths from mesothelioma in the United States derive from exposures decades ago.â?

The study also reported that â??the annual number of mesothelioma deaths is still increasing, and future cases will continue to reflect the extensive past use of asbestos. New cases also might result through occupational and environmental exposure to asbestos during remediation and demolition of existing asbestos in buildings if controls are insufficient to protect workers and the surrounding community.â?

Resource4thePeople is finding that the government officials have been correct in anticipating growing numbers of asbestos victims.

â??There has been a recent surge in requests for complimentary consultations from those who, tragically, have been diagnosed with this deadly, aggressive cancer for which there is no cure,” said Resource4thePeople.

Mesothelioma develops after victims unknowingly inhale microscopic particles of asbestos which lodge in the linings of the lungs, heart or abdominal organs and eventually generate cancer cells which form tumors or spread to other parts of the body.

In providing referrals to lawyers experienced in the area of asbestos litigation, Resource4thePeople notes that legal representation for asbestos victims has over the last several decades provided billions of dollars of compensation for loss of loved ones, medical and funeral expenses, loss of wages and pain and suffering.***

“One of the factors repeatedly raised in asbestos litigation is the question of negligence on the part of manufacturers, distributors and employer,” said Resource4thePeople .”Many mesothelioma victims were completely unaware that they were being exposed to this toxic material and unaware of the life-threatening consequences.

â??This is one of the reasons that the stiff sentence handed down by the Italian justice system is so important in increasing international awareness of this situation.â?

Resource4thePeople also notes that over the last few years the average amount of compensation awarded by juries or reached in out-of-court settlements has continued to increase. These figures were recently documented in an investigative report published May, 11, 2012 by Reuters News Service:***

“No central registry keeps track of asbestos lawsuits filed yearly or their outcomes,” Reuters said. “A tabulation of jury verdicts and settlements, based on an average of all asbestos-related lawsuits reported in Westlaw Journal Asbestos, a Thomson Reuters publication, found that the average award was $6.3 million in 2009, $17.6 million in 2010 and $10.5 million in 2011 — amounts much greater than what lawyers say was the norm more than a decade earlier.

“Clearly, mesothelioma and other asbestos-related payouts persist at levels companies and their insurers never expected. Insurers have been adding hundreds of millions of dollars to their asbestos-claim reserves. Travelers Cos, in its annual report for 2011, echoed its peers when it cited a “high degree of uncertainty with respect to future exposure from asbestos claims.”

Resource4thePeople notes that in its Jan. 7, 2013 Report to the Nation about cancer statistics the National Cancer Institute, which says there are about 2,000 to 3,000 new cases of mesothelioma diagnosed in the country each year, reports encouraging news about decreases in cancer death rates.****

However, while some of the most common cancers such as lung, colon and rectum, female breast and prostate showed declines, mesothelioma was not among the cancers mentioned as showing an improvement in decreasing death rates.

Resource4thePeople also notes that health officials cite one of the reasons that mesothelioma has not shown a decline in death rates is that the cancer has such a long latency period.

There is no cure for mesothelioma and in most cases by the time the cancer is diagnosed it cannot effectively be treated by common cancer approaches such as surgery, radiation and chemotherapy.

Sources:

*http://uk.reuters.com/article/2013/06/03/uk-italy-asbestos-idUKBRE9520UZ20130603

**http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm5815a3.htm

***http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/05/11/us-usa-asbestos-lawsuits-idUSBRE84A0J920120511

****http://www.cancer.gov/newscenter/newsfromnci/2013/ReportNation


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Mesothelioma News Update: Resource4thePeople Applauds Italian Court for Sentencing Swiss Millionaire in Asbestos Scandal

6 ex-managers indicted for asbestos deaths

Published: Feb. 13, 2013 at 5:07 PM

MILAN, Italy, Feb. 13 (UPI) — Six Italian power company ex-managers were indicted for manslaughter in connection with eight asbestos-related workers’ deaths, court records showed.

A Milan judge levied the charges against Francesco Corbellini, the chairman of the ENEL corporation from 1979 to 1987 along with five others, all of whom were managers at the corporation’s Turbigo power plant in Milan, ANSA reported Wednesday.

Prosecutors said the eight employees breathed asbestos dust while working in the Turbigo plant in the 1970s and 1980s and died of pleural mesothelioma, the most common type asbestos-caused cancer.

The trial’s first hearing is scheduled for May 15, and is one of a series of recent investigations of former company managers who allegedly permitted workers to be exposed to life-threatening asbestos, ANSA said.

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6 ex-managers indicted for asbestos deaths