Our client was diagnosed with mesothelioma at the age of 70. He had no history of smoking or any other cause for his illness aside from asbestos exposure. He was a well-educated man with a rich lifetime of military service, career civil service, blue-collar employment, and volunteer service. Unfortunately, given the time period in which he grew up and lived his entire life, this also meant that he was exposed to asbestos and asbestos-containing products at many different points, and in many different ways, throughout his life.
Long History of Asbestos Exposure Complicates Retired Navy Veteran’s Mesothelioma Case
Based on Neblett, Beard & Arsenault’s stout reputation for handling toxic tort cases and fighting the world’s largest and wealthiest corporations and product manufacturers, the client was referred to Attorney Richard Arsenault by a fellow colleague for help with his mesothelioma case. Neblett, Beard & Arsenault began its research with in-person meetings and frequent conversations with the client and his wife. To start piecing together when the client was exposed to asbestos, Neblett, Beard & Arsenault and the client talked about his service in the Navy during the Vietnam War, his neighborhood growing up, and his employment history to ultimately drill down on what job duties and tasks the client had performed, the types of rooms he worked in, and the types of products he worked with over his lifetime.
Through careful research, asking the right questions, and the lens of the client’s memory, Neblett, Beard & Arsenault’s Attorney Dustin Carter began connecting the dots and building proof of the client’s asbestos exposure.
The client was a retired Navy controlman who served on destroyer vessels during the Vietnam War, performing duties like firefighting and system maintenance. During that time, he was exposed to pumps, valves, seals, boilers, pipe insulation, and electrical devices that all contained asbestos. After he was discharged from the Navy, the client spent the majority of his adult life as a civil servant and, most importantly, a volunteer firefighter which required that he respond to structure fires and wear fire-retardant suits manufactured using asbestos.
As a child, the client spent some time hanging out in garages where he was exposed to brakes manufactured using asbestos and the resulting brake dust, which is a known source of asbestos exposure. As a young adult, the client was also exposed to asbestos in various jobs working with asbestos-containing convection ovens, boiler seals, and commercial machinery. The client was also exposed to asbestos from his home remodeling projects, whereby he remodeled homes using asbestos-containing products like joint compound, vinyl asbestos tiles, shingles, and roll flooring.
Intensive Research and a Trusting Relationship Help Build Mesothelioma Case Against Over 100 Defendants
Mesothelioma cases are often traumatic, intimate, and devastating to patients and their families. Dustin understood this as he and the client worked together on the case. Dustin’s experience allowed him to ask the right questions, listen attentively, offer answers and insights into the case, and, most importantly, develop a close rapport to the client through compassion and understanding of the client’s situation. “There is no substitute for understanding and compassion,” Dustin says, and it showed in the relationship he was able to build with his client.
Preparing the client’s case also took a lot of ground-level research, including tracking down numerous asbestos-containing products that the client was exposed during his entire lifetime to definitively prove exposure to asbestos. “In asbestos-related and mesothelioma cases,” Dustin says, “proving exposure is key.” Dustin took what he knew from personally meeting and speaking with the client about his history and used that information to find the specific asbestos-containing products the client had worked with and been exposed to in the past. For example, the Navy generally keeps extensive logs of all products and devices used on its ships, which helped Dustin identify possible sources of asbestos exposure during the client’s Navy service. Dustin also looked for product logs and proof of potential exposure from the client’s other jobs and activities, such as firefighting and hanging around in auto shops and garages as a kid. At times, Dustin needed to search for records from the client’s past employers that no longer existed, as well as trace the corporate history of manufacturing companies that no longer existed or currently exist under different names today.
Because mesothelioma is a rare, aggressive form of cancer with no known cure, Dustin did everything he could to expedite the legal process for the client and get the client’s case to trial as soon as possible. In the end, more than 100 defendant manufacturers and distributors of asbestos and asbestos-containing products were named in the client’s lawsuit, including major companies like:
- General Electric
- 84 Lumber
- Westinghouse Electric
- Georgia Pacific Corporation
- Honeywell International
- Sunbeam Products
- Union Carbide Corporation
- United States Steel Corporation
- Warren Pumps
As Dustin Carter and Richard Arsenault worked through the case, the client received treatment for mesothelioma, including chemotherapy. The client had good days and bad days, and he struggled with discomfort and shortness of breath which progressively worsened over time. In many instances, the client’s medical treatment left him physically unable to even verbally speak. Although the diagnosis had taken his family by surprise, the client did his best to remain jovial and upbeat through the emotionally and physically devastating circumstances. “He was very motivated and had a new-found respect for life,” Dustin remembers. “I was deeply moved and envious of his outlook on life.”
Ultimately, the client’s treatments took a severe toll on his body. In a tragic turn of events, within just seven months of his diagnosis of malignant epithelial mesothelioma, the client passed away while the litigation in his case remained pending.
Expected $2 Million Recovery for Man’s Family After Devastating Loss
Although the client did not get to see his day in court, his widow was able to carry on the legal process as a wrongful death case under the devastating circumstances. The litigation was a difficult and constant reminder of her loss, but her strength, courage and determination in seeing the case through as a promise to her late husband fortified her will to continue the case.
Dustin Carter and Richard Arsenault offered guidance and support to the client’s widow as the litigation continued, and they worked toward a successful resolution together. Ultimately, an estimated $2 million recovery will go to the client’s family.
To effectively litigate a mesothelioma case, attorneys must have experience in litigating mesothelioma cases, foundational knowledge of asbestos-containing products, understanding of the historical use of asbestos, and understanding of the means of exposure that put people at risk. If you have questions about your or your family’s legal rights after a mesothelioma diagnosis, or if you wish to pursue a lawsuit due to your asbestos exposure, reach out to our experienced attorneys today.