Malignant mesothelioma is a rare, aggressive, and often fatal form of cancer that affects the mesothelioma: tissue lining the lungs, heart, testicles, and abdominal cavity.
The primary cause of mesothelioma is exposure to silicate minerals known as asbestos, which were commonly used in commercial and industrial applications in Minnesota from the late 1950s to the early 1980s. The state also has natural asbestos deposits in its Eastern Mesabi and Aurora regions, as well as two former Superfund sites that underwent extensive cleanup due in part, to asbestos concerns.
An average of 73 people are diagnosed with mesothelioma in Minnesota each year, according to the Minnesota Department of Health; and 971 state residents died from the disease from 1999 to 2015. The northeastern region's historical reliance on industries known for asbestos exposure accounts for a mesothelioma incidence rate that's twice as high as Minnesota's other regions.
Being diagnosed with mesothelioma can be devastating, as patients are other given a poor prognosis. Fortunately, Minnesota has a wide variety of mesothelioma doctors, treatment centers—including the renowned Mayo Clinic—support groups and other helpful resources that mesothelioma patients can access. If you were diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma and believe the cause to be asbestos, you may be entitled to compensation, depending on the source and circumstances of the exposure. Here's what you need to know.
Minnesota Industries Linked to Asbestos Exposure
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Minnesota ranks 14th in the nation for mesothelioma and asbestosis-related deaths, with an average mesothelioma fatality rate of approximately 11 people per million per year. In Minnesota, mesothelioma cases are heavily-concentrated in the state's northeastern region, which is known for mining and manufacturing. Three counties in the region—St. Louis, Carlton, and Dakota—had some of the highest mesothelioma death rates in the United States from 2000 to 2009, per a CDC list that ranked the nation's top 50 counties for mesothelioma deaths.
Minnesota industries linked to asbestos exposure include:
- Mining. Iron and taconite iron ore mining have been a key part of Minnesota's economy for more than a century. In 2016, mineral production in the state's Iron Range region totaled $3.27 billion and, as a result, Minnesota was ranked the fifth largest producer of mineral value in the nation, according to a subsequent U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) report. Miners in Minnesota are routinely exposed to asbestos and other asbestos-like fibers: this occupational group has a higher-than-average mesothelioma incidence rate. As of February 2015, the Minnesota Department of Health has identified 101 confirmed cases of mesothelioma among 69,000 taconite miners.
- Ceiling tile manufacturing. Formerly known as the Wood Conversion Company, the Conwed Corporation used asbestos in ceiling tiles and other products manufactured at its Cloquet plant from 1958 through 1974. As a result, many workers were exposed to harmful asbestos dusts. According to the Minnesota Department of Health, there have been 39 confirmed cases of mesothelioma among the plant's 5,200 former employees.
- Shipbuilding. Asbestos was widely used in shipbuilding materials made between 1930 and 1970. Shipbuilders and shipyard workers in Duluth face significant risk of asbestos exposure and mesothelioma.
- Power plants. Due to its high heat and flame resistance, asbestos was widely used in power plants all across the country, and Minnesota is no exception.
- Oil and gas refining. Asbestos is also commonly used in the oil and gas industry, and is again prized for its resistance to high temperatures and fire.
- Flour mills. Home to Pillsbury and General Mills, Minneapolis was once known as the “Flour Milling Capital of the World.” Unfortunately, many of the city's mills and equipment were built using materials containing asbestos.
- Construction. Homes built between 1950 and the early 1980s may be constructed with siding, insulation, ceiling and floor tiles, joint compound, pipe cement, and roof shingles and flashing that contains asbestos. As a result, construction workers, plumbers, pipefitters, steamfitters, and electricians who work on renovation projects may be at risk of exposure.
Minnesota Companies Known for Asbestos Use
The following companies admitted to using asbestos or have faced asbestos-related claims, complaints or lawsuits. People who worked at these companies may have been exposed to asbestos. Additionally, their family members may have also been exposed to harmful asbestos dust brought into homes on workers' shoes and clothing.
- 3M Company
- Agate Lake Scrapyard
- American Steel and Wire Company
- Aurora Iron and Mining Company
- Conwed Corporation (formerly Wood Conversion Company)
- Duluth Air Force Base
- Duluth and Iron Range Railroad Company
- General Mills
- Koch Petroleum Group (now known as Pine Bend Refinery)
- Marathon Refinery
- Municipal Power Plant
- Olmsted County Sanitary Landfill
- Pillsbury Center
- Sherco Power Plant
- Sherburne County Power Station
Statute of Limitations for Mesothelioma Cases in Minnesota
Mesothelioma has a long latency period. It's not unusual for people to be diagnosed with the illness 20–to–50 years after their initial exposure to asbestos. The statute of limitation is a law that defines how long mesothelioma patients have to file a personal injury lawsuit.
In Minnesota, potential plaintiffs must file their lawsuit within four years of receiving a mesothelioma diagnosis.
Mesothelioma Doctors and Treatment Centers in Minnesota
Located in Rochester, the prestigious Mayo Clinic isn't just one of the best mesothelioma treatment centers in the state, it's also one of the top cancer treatment centers in the nation. At the Mayo Clinic, mesothelioma treatment is directed by medical oncologist and hematologist Dr. Aaron S. Mansfield.
Minnesota is also home to the University of Minnesota's Masonic Cancer Center in Minneapolis. It's a leading mesothelioma treatment facility with some of the best doctors in the country, including Dr. Robert Kratzke, a medical oncologist who specializes in treating mesothelioma.
Minnesota Mesothelioma Support Groups
- A general cancer support group meets each Tuesday morning at Fairview Southdale Hospital in Edina. For more information, contact Margaret Bohman at 952-836-3619.
- A living with cancer support group meets in the evening on the second and fourth Tuesday of each month at the Mercy Specialty Center in Coon Rapids. Call 763-236-6060 for more information.
Mesothelioma patients may also be able to take advantage of cancer counseling and support groups available through their local health system.
Consult an Experienced Mesothelioma Attorney
A malignant mesothelioma diagnosis can be both shocking and confusing. Facing an uncertain future and with expensive medical needs on the horizon, it's important that mesothelioma patients understand their legal rights and options.
If you were diagnosed with mesothelioma after being exposed to asbestos by an employer or other party, you may be entitled to damages. The skilled mesothelioma attorneys with Neblett, Beard & Arsenault can help you fight for whatever compensation you're owed. Our firm works on a contingency fee basis, so you don't pay for our services unless we resolve the case in your favor. Contact us today to schedule an appointment for a free initial case analysis.