It’s Time To Rebuild Your Life

Experts challenge EPA’s risk assessment for asbestos

Last year, Congress amended the Toxic Substances Control Act to require the Environmental Protection Agency to identify the 10 most hazardous chemicals or other substances that present an unreasonable risk of injury to health or the environment and to propose regulations to control their use. The EPA has just released its risk assessment for asbestos, a chemical that is widely recognized as a leading cause of serious and often fatal workplace illnesses. This risk assessment will have a significant impact on Connecticut and its large population of older buildings.

Prior to the discovery of its adverse health effects, asbestos was widely used as an insulating material and fire barrier. In the 1960s, scientists and doctors discovered that the inhalation of microscopic asbestos fibers caused such debilitating diseases as asbestosis, mesothelioma, and other types of lung cancer. The use of asbestos was sharply reduced after these discoveries were publicized, but workers were still exposed to asbestos in buildings built before the 1960s.

The EPA’s proposed risk assessment makes a surprising and perhaps shocking omission: in evaluating the health risk posed by asbestos, it will not focus on so-called “legacy” uses of the mineral. Instead, the EPA will look only at “current and prospective” uses of asbestos. This decision seems like a deliberate governmental choice to ignore an existing and dangerous health hazard. The release of asbestos fibers is a significant hazard whenever an older building is demolished or renovated. The EPA is deliberately turning a blind eye toward this hazard. When the EPA announced its decision, a number of experts in the filed issued comments denouncing the decision. An air quality expert based in Connecticut said that excluding “legacy” uses of asbestos imperils the viability of other laws that regulate asbestos use, including laws that require the removal of asbestos from school buildings.

The EPA’s decision does not alter the fact that asbestos still poses a grave health hazard to construction and demolition workers. Anyone who suffers from an asbestos-related disease such as mesothelioma may wish to consult an experienced attorney for advice on workers’ compensation benefits that may be available for such diseases.

Source: Chemical Watch, “Asbestos contractors protest exclusion of ‘legacy’ uses from TSCA assessment,” Sep. 21, 2017

Archives

Verdicts & Settlements

36-year-old laborer for landscaping company fractured wrist when fellow employee hit him with truck. Claimant received in excess of $30,000 in workers’ compensation benefits for total disability and medical expenses and settled with automobile insurance company for fellow employee for $95,000.

1989 workers’ compensation claim settled for $125,000. Claimant originally sustained a low back injury when she slipped and fell at local grocery store resulting in low back surgery in 1989. Several years later, claimant exacerbated her low back injury. Claim was reopened and settled with carrier for $125,000 in 2006.

47-year-old deli clerk sustained low back injuries at work for local supermarket. Carrier originally denied claim on the grounds that the injury was pre-existing. After formal workers’ compensation hearing carrier accepted claim and paid all total disability benefits and medical expenses in excess of $100,000. Case then settled for an additional $100,000 after injured person received a permanent disability rating.

34-year-old male roofer sustained multiple injuries to his shoulder, neck, back and hip when he fell from roof during work. Claimant was provided workers’ compensation benefits in excess of $100,000 and settled remaining claims for an additional $55,000.

40-year-old male working for cleaning company sustained neck and low back injuries when he fell on defective staircase while cleaning local museum. Claimant recovered over $95,000 in workers’ compensation benefits and resolved claim against museum for $85,000.

26-year-old laborer sustained fractured foot when a cast iron pipe was dropped on his foot. Employer and workers’ compensation carrier denied claim on basis that injured worker was an independent contractor. After a series of informal and formal workers’ compensation hearings, carrier conceded that claimant was an employee and settled case for $85,000.

24-year-old waitress sustained back injury while working at Outback Steak House. Workers’ compensation insurance company initially denied the claim. After a series of informal hearings, carrier accepted claim paying medical expenses and total disability benefits. In addition to those benefits paid, claim settled for an additional $75,000.

Delivery truck driver sustained right wrist fracture in rear-end motor vehicle accident while in the course of his employment. Claimant recovered in excess of $40,000 in workers’ compensation benefits for medical expenses and total disability benefits. Claimant settled case against at-fault driver for $105,000.

22-year-old male working as stocking clerk at “big box” retailer sustained herniated disc in low back. Workers’ compensation carrier refused to accept the claim. After formal workers’ compensation, hearing commissioner ordered carrier to pay over $35,000 in past total disability benefits and pay for surgery and all related medical expenses. Case settled for an additional $35,000 for a total recovery in excess of $100,000.

Rear-end collision on entrance ramp to Merritt Parkway resulting in 49-year-old woman sustaining mid-back injury. Case settled at mediation after filing suit for $300,000.

28-year-old passenger sustained multiple herniated discs in automobile accident in New York state. New York no-fault carrier paid for extended period of disability from work and medical expenses, including expenses for surgery. Case settled against driver of vehicle for $300,000 policy limits shortly after filing suit.

54-year-old man sustains shoulder injury when hit from behind by uninsured motorist on New Jersey Turnpike. Case settled for $135,000 prior to trial.

CT Transit bus driver sustained torn meniscus in collision with another vehicle. Claims made against at-fault driver, workers’ compensation carrier and client’s underinsured motorist policy. All claims settle for a recovery in excess of $100,000.

68-year-old woman sustained neck and back injuries in rear-end collision and required extended course physical therapy, but was not a surgical candidate. Case settled for $100,000 prior to filing suit.

34-year-old woman sustained concussion and neck and back injuries in hit-and-run accident on a New York highway. Claimant settled uninsured motorist claim for her $100,000 policy limits.

80-year-old woman sustained right foot fracture when her foot was run over in a parking lot. Case settled for at-fault driver’s policy limit of $100,000 prior to filing suit.

38-year-old nanny sustained right femur fracture when she fell down defective stairs in home of her employer’s neighbor. All medical expenses and lost wages reimbursed and case settled for an additional $150,000.

Claim against landlord for defective staircase in multi-family rental house. Claimant sustained a right femur fracture. Case settled for $125,000 prior to filing suit.

$95,000 judgment obtained against bar and nightclub for assault by one of its patrons against another patron.

47-year-old woman sustained a broken left wrist when she fell from porch stairs at house she was renting. Case settled for $95,000 shortly before trial.

26-year-old male bitten on leg by German shepherd. Claim against dog owner settled for $65,000 plus payment of all medical expenses.