Mesothelioma, a particularly deadly form of cancer, is caused by ingesting or inhaling asbestos fibers. Pennsylvania was ranked third in the U.S. for mesothelioma and asbestosis deaths between 1999 and 2013 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), with nearly 3,000 residents succumbing to asbestos-related diseases.
If you’ve been diagnosed with mesothelioma, there is financial help available. You could be one of the many patients eligible to claim compensation from a former employer or manufacturer who exposed you to asbestos.
Pennsylvania Residents and Asbestos Exposure
Asbestos-related cancers take decades to fully develop, placing anyone who has lived and worked in Pennsylvania in the past at potential risk of mesothelioma. Employees typically suffered exposure on the job by breathing in fibrous asbestos particles, which also became embedded in their clothing or in their hair. When workers returned home, they carried these fibers with them, placing spouses and children at risk of secondhand exposure.
Asbestos is used in many products and industries, but employees in the following trades have been deemed most at risk of exposure:
- Shipbuilding. Shipyards throughout Philadelphia County, Montgomery County, and Delaware County continue to use asbestos due to its insulation and corrosion-resistant properties. Sailors and servicemen at the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard would have encountered asbestos working around boilers, incinerators, and steam pipes, while shipbreaking often released asbestos particles into the air.
- Oil and gas works. Asbestos is still used to line electrical, gas, and other industrial pipes at oil refineries and gas companies such as Range Resources Appalachia in Canonsburg, Talisman Energy in Warrendale, and Cabot Oil & Gas in Pittsburgh. Even if an oil company has discontinued use of asbestos or has implemented worker protections, employees who worked at the company prior to 1980 may still have been exposed.
- Metal works. Steel is a staple of Pennsylvania industry, and workers at job sites in Ellwood City and New Castle may have been exposed to dangerous asbestos levels while working in the foundries and steel-tube mills. Machine shops and other steel production sites have been labeled as areas of “primary concern” for asbestos hazards by the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), confirming the risk to employees as well as people living nearby.
- Mining. There were several asbestos mines in the Southeastern portion of Pennsylvania. Although asbestos is no longer mined, it often contaminates other minerals during the mining process and can be found in limestone and other building-stone quarries, placing workers throughout Butler, Washington, and Allegheny Counties at risk. Ten percent of all Pennsylvanians who died of mesothelioma from 1999 to 2013 lived or worked in Allegheny County.
Mesothelioma Cases in Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania was once a major hub of asbestos litigation, accounting for 50 percent of all mesothelioma trial verdicts. In the 1970s and 1980s, Pennsylvania accounted for 17 percent of all asbestos claims filed in U.S. state courts. The cases were so successful for plaintiffs, that in 1991, the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation transferred all federal asbestos claims to Judge Charles Weiner of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, who dismissed tens of thousands of cases by 2004 and sent only a handful to trial. Consequently, mesothelioma attorneys began to file their cases at the state level rather than in federal court.
State court cases have been highly successful for mesothelioma victims and their families. In one case, the family of an Indiana County man was awarded $226,000 by a jury in 2008. The man had worked for Fisher Scientific from 1959 to 1994 and died of mesothelioma in 2005.
Today, Pennsylvanians have a limited window of time in which to file for asbestos injury compensation. Patients have two years from the date of a mesothelioma diagnosis or two years from the date of death of a family member to bring a claim. However, some people living in Pennsylvania may be eligible to file a claim in another state—if they worked for an employer in another state or were exposed to asbestos while working on a military base. Your attorney can tell you where your claim must be filed to ensure the best chance of recovery.
Treatment Options for Mesothelioma Patients in Pennsylvania
Patients in Pennsylvania have access to some of the very best cancer doctors and mesothelioma healthcare available. Although patients may have to travel to a major city to undergo treatment, a former employer may be ordered to cover the costs of travel, as well as the costs of radiation, chemotherapy, palliative treatments, alternative medicine, and other necessary care.
Top cancer and mesothelioma treatment centers in Pennsylvania include:
- Abramson Cancer Center in Philadelphia. As part of the University of Pennsylvania, Abramson Cancer Center is home to the Center for Lung Cancer, Mesothelioma, and Related Disorders. The Mesothelioma and Pleural Program offers a wide range of options for patients, including an individual treatment plan, minimally invasive surgeries, and the ability to participate in clinical trials.
- UPMC Hillman Cancer Center in Pittsburgh. The University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) developed its Mesothelioma Specialty Care program in 2011, treating patients in its renowned Hillman Cancer Center. Working in conjunction with the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute, patients have the benefit of the latest research to aid in mesothelioma diagnosis, surgery, and treatment.
- Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia. The Fox Chase Cancer Center (FCCC) is a nonprofit provider that has won numerous awards for cancer research, including Noble Prizes in chemistry and medicine and a National Cancer Institute (NCI) Comprehensive Cancer Center classification. Not only does FCCC offer some of the most advanced surgery and radiation technology in the country, it offers a wide variety of clinical trials and offers support groups for patients and families living with mesothelioma.
Contact Our Mesothelioma Attorneys
If you or a family member has been diagnosed with mesothelioma, the experienced mesothelioma attorneys at Neblett, Beard & Arsenault can help. We work on a contingency fee basis, which means we don't charge for our services until after your claim is settled. Contact us online or call us directly at 318.588.6303 today for a free consultation. For more information please order our free eBook, Mesothelioma and Your Legal Rights.