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EPA Fully Bans Chrysotile Asbestos: A Critical Step Towards Protecting Public Health

In a significant move to safeguard public health, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has finalized a ban on chrysotile asbestos, a toxic mineral responsible for an estimated 40,000 deaths in the United States each year. This announcement comes as a crucial step in addressing the widespread presence of this cancer-causing substance.

This long-awaited ban marks the culmination of decades of effort to address the pervasive threat posed by asbestos. Despite previous attempts by the EPA to eliminate its use, including a federal ban over 30 years ago that was subsequently blocked by a court order, asbestos has remained a persistent danger in homes, schools, and various industries across the country.

“Today is a historic day for our country, bringing hope and some solace to the countless workers and families affected by asbestos,” said Joe Belluck, managing partner at Belluck & Fox. “We may not have a cure for mesothelioma, but we are thankful to the EPA for finally doing the right thing and trying to stop it in its tracks. This ban means a safer, healthier future for generations to come.”

Chrysotile asbestos, one of six types of asbestos, has long been recognized for its role in causing mesothelioma and other serious health issues. Also known as “white asbestos,” chrysotile asbestos is the only form of asbestos still used and imported in the United States today.

The positive effects of this ban extend beyond regulatory measures. Asbestos litigation continues to unfold across the country, with major corporations facing legal battles over their role in exposing consumers to asbestos-related health risks. From Johnson & Johnson’s talc-based products to cases involving military veterans, the link between asbestos exposure and mesothelioma is well established, highlighting the urgent need for accountability and justice.

Joe Belluck’s dedication to defending innocent consumers spans decades, exemplified by his groundbreaking work in tobacco litigation. Today, Belluck & Fox stands as one of the nation’s premier mesothelioma and asbestos law firms, offering compassionate support and legal expertise to those facing the challenges of asbestos-related illnesses. With over 25 years of experience, Belluck & Fox attorneys have won over $1 billion in settlements and verdicts for clients and their families.

At Belluck & Fox, we stand in solidarity with those impacted by asbestos-related illnesses and commend the EPA’s action to protect public health. While this ban represents a significant victory, our commitment to advocating for the rights of victims remains unwavering. As we celebrate this milestone, we remain vigilant in our pursuit of justice and accountability for those affected by asbestos exposure.

If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with mesothelioma, reach out to Belluck & Fox for a free consultation.

News Release: Belluck & Fox Secures a Major Win for Survivors of the Buffalo Mass Shooting in a Lawsuit Against Social Media Companies

[NEW YORK, NY, March 18, 2024] – Belluck & Fox LLP, part of the legal team representing the victims of the Buffalo mass shooting in 2022, has successfully opposed the motions to dismiss filed by social media defendants. Seth Dymond of Belluck & Fox and the legal team successfully argued that social media platforms can constitute products as defined by New York law and under the particular circumstances of this case, meaning the defendants may be subject to product liability.

On May 14, 2022, a racially motivated massacre occurred at the Tops Friendly Markets supermarket on the East Side of Buffalo, NY. The shooter, Payton Gendron, held white supremacist beliefs and was driven by white replacement ideology. To carry out this heinous attack, he intentionally targeted a historically black neighborhood and traveled a considerable distance from his home. The criminal attorney for Gendron conceded that the crime was fueled by racist hate disseminated through online platforms.

Plaintiffs, which include family members of the victims and survivors of the May 14th massacre, filed their lawsuits against social media companies and others. The plaintiffs allege that these defendants had a significant role in promoting and disseminating racist ideologies, resulting in the racially motivated massacre at Tops. They allege that the defendants’ platforms are not merely message boards with user-generated content but are highly advanced products intentionally designed to captivate and addict young users, and to feed them information, even when unsolicited. The plaintiffs allege that the defendants’ products indoctrinated assailant Gendron and then steered him towards other posts that promoted the “white replacement theory.” Gendron pleaded guilty to charges including murder and terrorism motivated by hate and was sentenced in February 2023 to life in prison without parole. He also faces federal hate crime charges in which the government has indicated it intends to seek the death penalty.

The defendants, including META Platforms, Snap, Inc., Alphabet, Inc., Google, LLC, YouTube, LLC, Discord, Inc., Reddit, Inc., Amazon.com, Inc., and 4Chan Community Support, LLC, filed motions to dismiss. They claimed their platforms only act as hosts of third-party content and that they are immune from liability under the Communications Decency Act (CDA) and the First Amendment.

The decision denying the motions to dismiss is the first in the nation to give victims the ability to seek justice based on the nature of the products manufactured and marketed by social media companies.

Belluck & Fox will continue to advocate on behalf of plaintiffs to ensure social media platforms are held liable for any potential harm and associated dangers. The platforms should be suitably designed to prevent danger to users and others, and social media companies should be responsible for warning users of the potential risks of content and for implementing the necessary measures to ensure that all users have access to a safe and inclusive online environment.

For a free consultation with one of our experienced attorneys, contact Belluck & Fox today if you or a loved one have suffered serious harm due to social media usage.

About Belluck & Fox LLP
Belluck & Fox, founded on the philosophy of pursuing justice, one family at a time, has been dedicated to fighting for justice and securing compensation for its clients. Belluck & Fox law firm specializes in wrongful death lawsuits involving a variety of circumstances including nursing home abuse or neglect, workplace accidents, public transportation disasters, motor vehicle accidents, and defective products. While no amount of financial compensation can replace the loss of a loved one, victims’ families should be compensated fairly for the wrongful death, providing them with a degree of financial comfort and justice for those left behind.

Asbestos Was Used as Fake Snow and Christmas Tree Decorations

A white Christmas may fill you with happy memories and warm family moments. So might the classic film The Wizard of Oz. However, before the dangers of asbestos were well known, both of these had one concerning thing in common: asbestos was used as a substitute for snow.

Fake snow has a history of dangerous substances. Before asbestos, decorators would use borax flakes or even ammonia because, like asbestos, it had a white and fluffy appearance.

While this is an interesting historical tidbit, it’s also an important warning for people even today. If you have been using Christmas decorations that have been passed down from generation to generation since the mid 20th century, there is a chance they could be contaminated with asbestos.

In addition to the Wizard of Oz, it’s recorded that asbestos was also used as fake snow in Citizen Kane, considered by many critics to be the greatest film ever produced. 

Why is this so important? Asbestos is a known carcinogen directly causing mesothelioma, a deadly cancer of the lungs. Even small traces of exposure to asbestos have been linked to cases of mesothelioma. 

In fact, while we know of the well-documented severe dangers of asbestos, it is still not completely banned in the United States. Some products that still utilize asbestos include car parts and construction materials. Traces of asbestos have even been found in cosmetic products that include talc.

If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with mesothelioma, Belluck & Fox can help. Reach out to our experienced attorneys today for a free consultation.

Update on Banning Asbestos in the United States

Asbestos exposure is the leading cause of most people that are diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma, and is linked to the deaths of approximately 40,000 Americans a year. Those deaths are caused by lung cancer, asbestosis, cancer of the larynx, and ovarian cancer.

Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral that is also a known carcinogen, and is not banned in the United States. The importing of asbestos into the United States has actually increased in recent years. Asbestos is found in houses in insulation and multiple products have asbestos in them.

The Alan Reinstein Ban Asbestos Now Act of 2019 is a bill that will ban asbestos importation into the United States. The bill has been named for Alan Reinstein, the late husband of Linda Reinstein who died of malignant mesothelioma. Linda Reinstein is one of the co-founders of Asbestos Disease Awareness Foundation who has been working tirelessly for banning asbestos for many years. 

According to the ADAO website, the bill would:

  • Ban importation and use of asbestos and asbestos containing products within one year of enactment. 
  • Require that Chlor-alkali plants using asbestos diaphragms would need to eliminate the use of asbestos and convert to non-asbestos technology following a transition period.
  • Establish a new Right-to-Know program to require anyone who has imported, processed and distributed asbestos to report and disclose to the public how much asbestos has been in U.S. commerce, where and how it has been used, and who has been exposed.
  • Require the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) to conduct a comprehensive study of risks presented by “legacy” asbestos used in buildings constructed decades ago but still present in millions of residences, businesses, factories, public buildings, and schools.
  • Stringently control the presence of asbestos contaminants in consumer products and construction materials.
  • Apply to the hazardous Libby Amphibole form of asbestos, found in attic insulation in millions of homes.

This bill was advanced out of the Committee on Energy and Commerce by a bipartisan vote on November 19th. The next step is to be voted on by the full House of Representatives. During these divisive partisan political times this is a very important step toward the goal of passing this bill into law.

As we pause this week to give thanks for our blessings it is also a time to reflect. For the mesothelioma community it is a time to be thankful for the support of tireless advocates for all their work on making banning asbestos in the United States closer to reality.  The work of a few to benefit all. Thank you for trying to make this world a safer, healthier planet.

If you or someone you love has been diagnosed, please reach out to Belluck & Fox for a free consultation. With laws and information available to patients changing all the time, we can be the experts that help you find justice.

Trip or Treat?

Halloween is a big deal for children and families all across the United States, giving children (and many adults!) the opportunity to dress up and collect some great candy while they’re at it.

With a massive number of people participating each year, there is always a need to pause and think about how to stay safe and enjoy the holiday. We’ve compiled just a few tips to keep in mind as you head out this year.

  1. Costumes should be bright and preferably reflective to ensure trick or treaters can be seen by drivers and the people around them.
  2. When decorating your home, try to avoid things on the ground that trick or treaters could trip or injure themselves on. It also helps to keep your walkways well lit!
  3. Children should always be accompanied by an adult. Try to ensure some sort of way to communicate while you’re out – either a cell phone or walkie talkie – to avoid separating.
  4. It’s rare, but it is still a risk. Be sure to check candy before eating it, just in case someone had the wrong intentions. Always better to be safe than sorry.
  5. If you see any suspicious activity while you’re out around the neighborhood, report it. Halloween tends to be a reason for people to play pranks or worse, and we all need to look out for one another.

Lastly, have fun! While there are plenty of safety concerns to take into account, Halloween is meant to be an exciting, entertaining, and rewardingly sweet day. We hope you enjoy it this year. Feel free to share some of your best costume photos with us on social media!



Veterans get justice from Court for emergency room claims denied by VA

If you’re a veteran, you know how complicated getting medical care can be. In situations where you need emergency assistance at a facility not run by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, that can lead to even more frustration, and often a denial of reimbursement.

No more, says a recent federal court ruling.

What happened?

The VA could be on the hook for as much as $6.5 billion in payments for hundreds of thousands of veterans who have filed or will file claims between 2016 and 2025. This is thanks to the U.S. Court of Appeals deciding that an internal VA regulation banning these kinds of rejections was “unacceptable,” according to NBC News.

Why was it so bad?

“Not only was the VA not reimbursing veterans’ claims,” reported Fox News, “but the agency was actively telling veterans they weren’t entitled to payments for non-VA emergency care when, in fact, they are.” This action is at odds with previous federal rulings that said veterans were, in fact, entitled to submit and be reimbursed for these claims.

Military Times writes that In August, the VA Inspector General discovered over $50 million that should have been refunded under existing rules.

How can I get compensation?

If you submitted a claim for emergency care from a non-VA facility since 2016, or have pending claims with the VA, you may be entitled to compensation. Belluck & Fox can help you get what is rightfully yours.

Reach out for a free consultation to discuss your situation. The specific process for claim appeals is still under development by the VA, but there is still time to get started. If your case meets the criteria, we’ll work with you to ensure your proper benefits are provided.

Breast Implants by Allergan Recalled for Link to Cancer

When you have a medical procedure, you expect a certain level of assurance that the products being used are safe. That turns out to not be the case for breast implants produced by Allergan Plc, which has recalled all of their Biocell textured implants at the direction of the FDA.

Sales of Allergan’s textured implants – and textured implants manufactured by several other companies – have already stopped in Europe due to a ban in France, been banned in Canada, and are on the docket to be banned in Australia. The other manufacturers include Arrion, Sebbin, Nagor, Eurosilicone, and Polytech.

Who is affected?

Patients who have the following implants or tissue expanders are affected by the recall:

  • Natrelle Saline-Filled breast implants
  • Natrelle Silicone-Filled breast implants
  • Natrelle Inspira Silicone-Filled breast implants
  • Natrelle 410 Highly Cohesive Anatomically Shaped Silicone-Filled breast implants 
  • Natrelle 133 Plus Tissue Expander
  • Natrelle 133 Tissue Expander with Suture Tabs

If you or someone you know has one of the above listed products, or any textured breast implant, there may be increased risk for Breast Implant-Associated Anaplastic Large Cell Lymphoma, or BIA-ALCL. BIA-ALCL is actually a cancer of the immune system, rather than the breast.

What is the risk?

The Cleveland Clinic says that symptoms of BIA-ALCL include swelling or fluid accumulation in the breast or around an implant; lumps; pain; changes in the shape or size of the breast or breasts; and redness.

According to the FDA, “evidence indicated that a specific manufacturer’s product appeared to be directly linked to significant patient harm, including death.” They state that as of July 2019, there were a recorded 573 cases of BIA-ALCL globally, and 33 deaths.

CNN quoted Dr. Colleen McCarthy of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center as saying that “Most patients diagnosed with BIA-ALCL will be cured by removal of both breast implants along with the scar tissue, or capsule, surrounding each implant. A small minority of patients will also require chemotherapy and radiation.”

Who can help?

If you’ve been diagnosed with BIA-ALCL and have one of Allergan’s recalled products or other textured breast implant, Belluck & Fox LLC can help. No one should have to fight for their health alone. 

With over two decades of experience standing up for patients, we are committed to finding justice for you. We will provide a free consultation, and if we can take on your case, promise to fight for you and your family as if it were our own.