Camp Lejeune Justice Act Will Allow Exposed Veterans to Seek Compensation
Around 1953, the groundwater at Camp Lejeune became contaminated, which affected two water treatment plants located on the base. Military personnel (including veterans, reservists, and guardsmen), their families, and others were impacted by this contamination, at Camp Lejeune as well as Marine Corps Air Station New River in North Carolina.
In 2021, H.R. 2192 was introduced into Congress as the Camp Lejeune Justice Act. The bill will allow for individuals to pursue damages from the U.S. government if they were exposed to the contaminated groundwater at the facility for more than 30 cumulative days during the period of August 1, 1953, and December 31, 1987. When the Camp Lejeune Justice Act is signed into law, Belluck & Fox injury attorneys will be able to help ensure that the victims of this groundwater contamination will be able to seek justice and compensation for the severe illnesses they contracted while on the base.
That exposure was swift and frequent, since the groundwater had been used for drinking, cooking, bathing, cleaning, and more. The contamination stemmed from chemicals known as volatile organic compounds, or VOCs, such as Trichloroethylene (TCE), Perchloroethylene (PCE), Benzene, Vinyl chloride, and over 70 other compounds. As for how these chemicals wound up in the groundwater, reports suggest that the chemicals originated from a dry-cleaning business located off-base, chemicals used by military personnel to clean their equipment on-base, and fuel storage tanks buried underground.
Since the early 1980s, several extensive environmental and medical research have been conducted to determine the sources and results of the contamination. Just as more compounds had been discovered as contributors to the contamination, more and more medical conditions have been compiled which are traceable to the substance exposure, including but not limited to:
Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune is a training facility for the United States military, which opened in 1941 in Jacksonville, North Carolina. It comprises 156,000 acres of land with state-of-the-art training facilities for various types of combat, including 11 miles of beach for amphibious assault training, and is supplemented by six other training satellite facilities nearby. Though owned and primarily used by the United States military, NATO forces and others from around the world have been known to participate in training exercises there as well. One of the sub-facilities at Lejeune became a third site for boot camp training for the Marines, in addition to San Diego, California and Parris Island, South Carolina.
This dark period should be examined and considered as not only a human health tragedy, but an environmental one as well. Questions about dumping regulations, cleanup responsibility and accountability, crisis management, and medical emergency management all deserve to be answered.
If you or a loved one was enlisted, worked, or lived on Camp Lejeune in North Carolina and have been diagnosed with a health complication that can be linked to cancer, Parkinson’s, birth complications, or other tragic loss, please reach out for a free consultation today. Belluck & Fox’s compassionate and award-winning lawyers can help you hold the U.S. government responsible for your exposure and resulting health problems.
EPA Finally Admits Asbestos Presents an “Unreasonable” Health Risk
In 2016, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) finally designated asbestos as a chemical targeted for risk evaluation. A recent release by the agency in June 2022 was the final scope of Part 2 of this risk evaluation, performed under the Toxic Substance Control Act, as amended by the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act. Notably, the EPA concludes for the first time that asbestos – a known human carcinogen – presents an “unreasonable” health risk to workers under certain conditions. The EPA has a deadline of December 1, 2024, to complete and publish the risk evaluation.
At Belluck & Fox, we are watching the EPA’s efforts carefully to conduct this risk evaluation in good faith and to ensure that the public knows just how dangerous asbestos can be. Asbestos exposure and its associated health risks – the sole cause of mesothelioma cancer – are not topics that we take lightly. While we believe this risk evaluation is a long overdue measure by the EPA, we are encouraged to see that their evaluation intends to cover a broad range of important issues pertaining to asbestos exposure, particularly in the area of legacy uses.
Part 1 of this evaluation was published in December 2022, and the first two of three installments of Part 2 were published in January 2021 and January 2022, respectively. In Part 1 of the risk evaluation, the agency concluded that chrysotile asbestos poses an “unreasonable” risk to human health after reviewing 32 conditions of use. The dangers of asbestos are posed to consumers, bystanders, occupational non-users, and workers in both direct and indirect contact with asbestos. The scope of Part 1 was limited to chrysotile asbestos since it is “the only form of asbestos known to be imported, processed, or distributed for use in the United States, including in manufacturing, processing, distribution in commerce, occupational and consumer uses, and disposal,” according to the EPA.
Part 2 of the risk evaluation centers on legacy uses of asbestos and its disposal, as well as describing previous asbestos uses, avenues of exposure, and impacted populations of that exposure. Due to this shift in focus, the use and presence of talc and five other types of asbestos fibers were included and addressed, in addition to chrysotile asbestos mentioned in Part 1. Construction materials would be evaluated as a legacy use due to their exceptionally high prevalence and opportunities for exposure. Talc is still found in many consumer products produced and used today, either as a main ingredient or as a filler, such as in lubricants, dusting powders, paint, paper, and roofing materials.
Our mesothelioma clients are victims of not only the long-term health ramifications produced by asbestos exposure but also the companies that used asbestos and asbestos-related products in abundance in the workplace. We are hopeful that the EPA will take steps to recommend a broad ban on asbestos products. Our attorneys will not stop fighting until our exposed clients and their families receive the justice they deserve.
Celebrating 20 Years as Belluck & Fox
At Belluck & Fox, we are incredibly proud to celebrate our 20th year in business together, helping our clients get the justice they deserve. Since 2002, Joe Belluck, Jordan Fox, and all our partners, attorneys, and staff have fought diligently and relentlessly to earn over $1 billion in compensation for mesothelioma and personal injury victims. After building a nationally recognized firm in New York over the last two decades, this year we began our expansion into Massachusetts, Maine, and the New England area. Joe Belluck was admitted to the bar in Massachusetts and Maine with the hope to bring the same levels of service and success to victims and families in the area, just as he has in New York.
Joe has been practicing law for over 25 years, with specialties and expertise in mesothelioma and asbestos, truck accidents and other personal injury, and consumer fraud and defective products. Early in his career, he worked as an attorney for a consumer group in Washington, D.C., represented New York State in its case against the big tobacco companies, and provided free representation to families of 9/11 victims at a volunteer legal center. Joe has a proven track record of being a compassionate and effective advocate for his clients, with a high level of legal ability and ethical standards. He continues to devote time to public service amid his work at the firm, by chairing or serving on boards of directors for multiple national and state organizations and groups which mainly provide services for children.
Jordan’s law career spans over three decades, wherein he has secured over 100 million dollars in verdicts for his clients from Brooklyn to Baltimore and specialized in asbestos, environmental hazards, crime, and product liability cases. Jordan has obtained some of the biggest, groundbreaking judgments in New York in the asbestos and mesothelioma field, including the first against a major retailer (Sears Roebuck) for selling products that were found to have caused mesothelioma. Jordan is committed to remaining an active participant in the legal community by retaining membership in multiple legal organizations, both at the national level and the state level in New York. In addition to his work at the firm, he continues to stand up for crime victims in special practice, for whom he has won millions of dollars in civil suits.
Our firm’s dedication, commitment, and passion for defending our clients are only a few of the reasons Belluck & Fox stands as a highly respected and top-rated mesothelioma and personal injury law firm. Our decades of combined experience, vast resources, proven track record of ability and success, and our attorneys’ ability to practice and defend clients in nine states, the District of Columbia, and several federal jurisdictions, are what makes success possible for us and our clients. As we move beyond our first 20 years and look towards the future, we thank our hard-working and committed team for making this milestone possible. We also thank our clients and their families who entrusted us with their stories of physical and emotional pain, and allowed us to seek justice on their behalf.
Here’s to another 20 years seeking justice and fighting for your families as if they were our own.
News Release: Belluck & Fox LLP Expands to New England with Boston Office
NEW YORK CITY (March 3, 2022) – Belluck & Fox LLP, a nationally recognized mesothelioma and personal injury law firm, today announced that it is expanding into New England with a new office in Boston at 699 Boylston Street. Managing partner Joseph Belluck has been admitted to the bar in both Massachusetts and Maine, empowering the firm to better serve clients and their families in the region.
“When we founded Belluck & Fox, we set out to be a different kind of law firm. I’m proud that we’re known as a force to be reckoned with for our clients because we care so deeply about getting them justice,” said Belluck. “Our new presence in Boston enables us to more effectively provide our services and two decades of experience to clients in Massachusetts, Maine, and the New England region.”
Belluck & Fox prides themselves on their zealous advocacy for their clients. Over the years, the firm has settled more than a billion dollars in asbestos and personal injury verdicts. They are consistently acknowledged for their successes by U.S. News, Best Lawyers, SuperLawyers, Martindale-Hubbell, The National Law Journal, Avvo, the Better Business Bureau, and many other publications and organizations.
Joe Belluck has been practicing law for more than 25 years, having founded Belluck & Fox with Jordan Fox in 2002. Belluck has a strong reputation for excellence in mesothelioma, truck accidents, and other serious injury litigation. He is a dedicated, compassionate attorney who has spent his entire life and legal career advocating for injured consumers and workers.
Belluck’s recognition goes beyond the courtroom. He is often called upon to speak at national conferences, serves as chair of the New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct, and is a trustee of The State University of New York. He is also committed to giving back, serving as chair of the boards for Precious Dreams, a national organization that provides comfort items to foster and homeless youth, and CMind, which promotes meditation and contemplative practices on college campuses.
Attorneys at Belluck & Fox are also admitted to practice in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Vermont, Florida, California, Colorado, Washington, the District of Columbia, and several federal jurisdictions, including the Supreme Court. The firm serves clients across the United States based out of New York City, with offices around the state in Albany, Gloversville, Rochester, and Woodstock. With the opening of the new Boston location, Belluck & Fox looks forward to continuing its long association with the Law Offices of Michael Joyce to represent their joint clients.
Potential clients seeking representation for themselves or a loved one who has been diagnosed with mesothelioma, injured, or suffered injustice, can reach out today for a free consultation.
About Belluck & Fox, LLP
Personal. Professional. Proven. Founded in 2002 by Joseph Belluck and Jordan Fox, Belluck & Fox LLP is a nationally recognized law firm specializing in cases of mesothelioma and asbestos, personal injury, and other forms of injustice. The firm represents clients across the United States based out of New York City with additional offices around the state in Albany, Rochester, and Woodstock, as well as Boston, Massachusetts. They have secured over $1 billion in verdicts for their clients. For more information, visit www.belluckfox.com.
Daniel Belzil Expands Belluck & Fox Insurance Recovery Practice
New York City – Belluck & Fox LLP announced today that Daniel Belzil has joined the firm as an insurance coverage lawyer to launch their insurance recovery practice.
Belzil brings significant experience as a policyholder coverage litigator, representing insured individuals and businesses seeking to enforce coverage from insurance companies. At Belluck & Fox, Belzil will be working on forcing insurance companies to pay on the policies they sold to businesses and consumers.
Belluck & Fox is accepting referrals of insurance coverage work from plaintiff and other law firms dealing with insurance coverage in their asbestos, personal injury, and other cases, as well as referral of cases on behalf of individuals and businesses that have been denied insurance coverage.
A zealous advocate, Belzil has six years of experience in litigating cases from inception through trial. He covers all types of third- and first-party coverage matters, including commercial and homeowners property policies, directors and officers (D&O), commercial general liability (CGL), crime fidelity bonds, property, pollution legal liability (PLL), errors and omissions (E&O), and aircraft hull.
Belzil joins Belluck & Fox LLP from Blank & Rome LLP, where he was an insurance recovery associate. He received his J.D., magna cum laude, from Vermont Law School, and his B.A. from the University of Calgary.
About Belluck & Fox, LLP
Personal. Professional. Proven. Founded in 2002 by Joseph Belluck and Jordan Fox, Belluck & Fox LLP is a nationally recognized law firm specializing in cases of mesothelioma and asbestos, personal injury, and insurance recovery. The firm represents clients across the United States based out of New York City with additional offices across the state in Albany, Gloversville, Rochester, and Woodstock. They have secured over $1 billion in verdicts for their clients.
Case Story and Client Testimonial of Thomas McCormick
Thomas McCormick grew up in a close-knit Catholic family that was “always together.” His parents were hard workers who struggled to make ends meet. Tom spent ample time helping his younger brothers and sisters and did as much as he could to help around the house. At 16, he started working as a dishwasher and busboy at various restaurants and country clubs. His father, always repeating the mantra “fix it, don’t throw it out,” taught him how to repair lawnmowers that they’d find on the side of the road.
Tom graduated from high school and tried college on for size, but after a year decided that it wasn’t for him. He instead got a job as a “gunslinger,” repairing and maintaining the heating systems in Albany’s many large commercial buildings. Tom worked with another mechanic to clean and repair commercial equipment. “We’d get very dirty and were involved with asbestos pretty much every day,” Tom explained in his deposition. Amongst other things, Tom worked on water circulators, steam traps, boilers, pumps, and water heaters.
Tom then got a job as a boiler room helper at Albany Medical Center, where he was tasked with fixing and maintaining Cleaver Brooks boilers and completing various projects concerning valves and steam traps around the hospital. He would shut the boilers down, clean out the boilers and the burners, open up the handholes from the water and fire side of the boiler, and would even crawl inside and clean out the boiler.
Following his job at Albany Med, Tom was hired as a serviceman. He replaced a lot of boilers and did a lot of household plumbing work. “I would be white at the end of the day except for where I wore my hat,” Tom said of the asbestos that he encountered while working on the boilers. He estimated repairing thousands of boilers in this capacity.
In 1983, Tom began working for a company called Main-Care Heating and Oil, where he worked as a serviceman for heating. From 1983-1993, he repaired an estimated 1000+ boilers.
Prior to the summer of 2019, Tom’s health was good. “I was very active. I had my own business until 2013” he explained. Tom had never experienced any breathing problems or been diagnosed with any form of cancer. He enjoyed boating, doing home repairs, snow blowing, and gardening, amongst other things. “I was quite the handyman,” he said, “I was Mr. Fix It Man.”
In the spring of 2019, however, Tom started to slow down. His wife noticed that “he was not as energetic or gregarious as he used to be.” By April and May, Tom was experiencing so much pain that he felt like “[he] had an elephant sitting on his chest.” He was initially told that he had water on his right lung and had three liters of liquid removed. When the pleural tissue was biopsied, however, Tom learned that he had mesothelioma. Learning of his diagnosis “made [him] feel” awful. Because of the COVID-19 crisis, Tom was unable to digest the news with his family present and had to stay in the hospital alone. When he finally was given clearance to leave the hospital, Tom told his elderly parents about the mesothelioma diagnosis. “They were pretty disheartened,” Tom explained in his deposition, “My mother was crying, my father was crying. They were very upset because they didn’t want to lose their oldest child before they were to die. It was a pretty sad affair.”
Tom then had a pleurectomy performed by a thoracic surgeon in New York City who removed eight pounds of cancerous cells from Tom’s right lung. “I was hurting like hell, but I felt lucky that I was alive,” Tom, ever the optimist, explained, “I could’ve died on the table too, you never know.” He felt thankful that in the new stage of quarantine, his daughter and wife were able to visit him after his painful surgery.
Following four rounds of chemotherapy that rid his lungs of the remaining cancer cells but left him with serious side effects, Tom found that he couldn’t stand for any length of time nor could he do work around the house. “My wife has to do everything for me,” Tom said. The narcotics that he was given for the chemotherapy also rendered him unable to drive. “I love driving, driving’s my favorite thing to do. I was always the driver,” he continued wistfully, “By not being able to drive, it takes away some of my freedom.”
“I love my children—I love them to death,” Tom said in his deposition, tearing up, “We would do everything together—camping, boating, out in the car, in the house, growing gardens, doing scouting activity with my son. I can’t do that anymore—I’m sick and I don’t like it.” He especially laments the fact that he cannot see his two-year-old granddaughter. “She kind of knows her Papa, but we haven’t seen her in three months. But she’ll get to know me,” Tom continued with hope, “She’s just a cool little kid.”
Currently, Tom is getting immunotherapy with Keytruda to try to keep the mesothelioma under control.
Seth A. Dymond Prevails in an Appeal Affirming a $7 Million Mesothelioma Verdict
NEW YORK CITY (October 29, 2020) – Seth A. Dymond, partner and head of the Appellate
and Motion Department at Belluck & Fox, LLP successfully defended an appeal taken from a
more than $7 million asbestos verdict against defendant Jenkins Bros. The defendant argued on
appeal that there was not enough evidence to establish that its asbestos-containing valves
caused the plaintiff James G. Stock to develop terminal mesothelioma that resulted in his
James G. Stock, who had been working in a second career as a police officer, was diagnosed
with incurable mesothelioma in 2017, a signature disease of asbestos exposure. Between 1979
and 1986, Stock worked in the maintenance department at the NY Wire Mills plant in
Tonawanda, New York, where he was regularly exposed to asbestos in countless valves
manufactured by Jenkins Bros. Stock and his wife Lynn commenced this lawsuit seeking
damages for the injuries that he sustained as a result of his exposure to the asbestos. After
Belluck & Fox, LLP attorneys secured a more than $7 million jury verdict for the Stocks in
Buffalo in September of 2018, Jenkins Bros. asked the trial court to overturn the jury verdict on
multiple grounds, and to reduce the amount of damages. After its motion was denied in its
entirety, Jenkins Bros. appealed, arguing that the plaintiff did not establish that Mr. Stock’s
exposure to asbestos from Jenkins Bros. valves was a cause of his disease.
In unanimously rejecting Jenkins Bros.’ argument, the New York Appellate Division, Fourth
Judicial Department, concluded that “[c]ontrary to defendant’s contention, the expert’s opinion,
considered along with the rest of her testimony, was sufficient to establish specific causation.
The Appellate Division then rejected defendant’s contention that the decision of New York’s
highest court in Matter of New York City Asbestos Litig. [Juni] (32 NY3d 1116 ) compelled
a different result under the facts of this case, or warranted a new trial.
Seth Dymond is a partner and the head of the Appellate and Motion Department at Belluck &
Fox, LLP. He has a consistent history of victories at the appellate courts, and to date has never
had a liability verdict overturned at the appellate level. He frequently briefs and argues
numerous cutting-edge legal issues in Asbestos Litigation across New York State and other
jurisdictions. Prior to joining Belluck & Fox, LLP, Dymond was a Senior Court Attorney at the
New York State Appellate Division, Second Judicial Department, where he worked on hundreds
of appeals. Seth received his J.D., magna cum laude, from New York Law School, and his
Bachelor of Music from James Madison University.
Case Story of Joe Barna
“A mesothelioma doctor had given me Joe [Belluck]’s information, and I called Joe right away. He offered to come to my house the following weekend. He really showed a friendship to me. He made everything easy. Every form that we sent him had the sticky with the arrow, the highlighter, and a return envelope with postage paid. [Belluck & Fox, LLP] did all of the heavy lifting for me. It was an effortless process. And that’s what Joe said, ‘you’ve got more important things to worry about than a postage stamp and getting a return address.’ I’m not an administrative guy, so they made it a no-brainer.” – Joe Barna, client
Belluck & Fox, LLP was proud to represent Joseph Barna in a mesothelioma case that secured him a substantial settlement and the peace of mind that he and his wife would be protected financially.
Early Life and Career History
Barna was born in 1963 and grew up in a working-class family in Chelmsford, Massachusetts. His father served in the air force and then worked at the Johns-Manville plant, and his mother was a homemaker. Barna and his sisters often took extra jobs to help their family financially. Even after graduating technical school in 1981 where he studied the sheet metal trade, he remained as a teaching assistant so that his mother could continue receiving government benefits.
After completing his job as teaching assistant, Barna began working at Northeast Metal Fabricators as an apprentice in November of 1981. He became a mechanic in 1984 and worked at Northeast Mechanical, Lowell Sheet Metal, Burlington Mechanical and Chelmsford Air. Barna regularly installed boilers and removed furnaces, performed duct work and worked as an HVAC technician.
Barna continued working until 2018, when his career was cut short by a devastating diagnosis of malignant pleural mesothelioma. Prior to his diagnosis, Barna lived an active lifestyle, and in addition to being a self-described “worker bee,” he rollerbladed three to four times a week, did 40 pushups every day, attended car shows and enjoyed working on his 1968 Firebird. He also played in several different classic rock bands and was an active participant in the praise band at his church.
In 2018, however, after three cycles of chemotherapy and a serious pleurectomy and decortication surgery, Barna’s quality of life deteriorated significantly. “I haven’t slept probably since May,” he explained at his 2018 deposition. Not only did depression ensue after the surgery, but Barna was left completely unable to work, to do pushups, and to rollerblade in the way that he used to. Every activity left him easily tired, and he and his fiancée Theresa were left only to take long drives and to attend church services. Barna remained upbeat, however, and stated that, “If they’ve got to take the rest of the lung to preserve my mortality, so be it. But I’m grateful… I want to be positive about the whole thing. Either way, I’m going to be okay. Up there or down here.”
Towards the end of the deposition, Barna’s attorney and managing partner of Belluck & Fox, LLP Joe Belluck asked Barna what he called a “strange question.” “During your deposition and today, when I’ve asked you how you felt about something, and what your reaction is to something, you’ve used the word that I think many people would think is sort of an odd word for someone in your situation to use. You keep saying that you’re grateful. Could you explain to the jury what you mean by that?”
Barna paused for a second before replying, “I’m just grateful for every day I have down here, you know… God has shown himself to me during this time. Theresa [his fiancée] and I just scratch our heads going ‘we shouldn’t be amazed, but we are of the people he’s brought us to.’ I don’t believe in coincidences; I feel God is paying more attention [to me]. I know a lot of people need His love and His attention, but… I’m grateful for the people around me. I feel so loved. It’s just a selfless love I’ve been feeling.”
Right before ending the November 13th, 2018 deposition, Belluck came into the camera’s view to offer Barna a guitar. Barna and Joe [Belluck] had earlier bonded over their shared love of music and of the guitar in particular. “When Joe first came to my house, I shared with him that I played in the praise band at church and I played acoustic guitar, so that really sparked his interest. When Joe [Belluck] said ‘bring your guitar tomorrow, I didn’t ask him. I said, ‘lead me by the hand,’ so I walked into the deposition with my guitar case.” Barna ended the deposition with a perfectly pitched rendition of John Denver’s “Leaving on a Jet Plane.”
Happily Ever After
Barna married his fiancée Theresa following his surgery in May 2019. He is rollerblading again, playing his guitar, going to church with his wife, doing yard work, and enjoying his good health.
Lori Garber’s “A Primer on Asbestos and Mesothelioma: Celebrating 17th Annual Mesothelioma Awareness Day” Published by The Legal Intelligencer
Of Counsel attorney Lori Garber’s article “A Primer on Asbestos and Mesothelioma: Celebrating 17th Annual Mesothelioma Awareness Day” was published by The Legal Intelligencer on September 25, 2020. In honor of the Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation’s 17th annual Mesothelioma Awareness Day, Garber discusses the causes and symptoms of mesothelioma and the perils of asbestos in Pennsylvania.
Garber has over 30 years of experience in asbestos litigation. In addition to being of counsel at Belluck & Fox, LLP, she is a board member of Girls, Inc. of Greater Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey. She is also the second vice president of the Temple Law Alumni Association Executive Board and the co-chair of the Temple Law Alumni Association’s Women’s Leadership Initiative Committee.
Joseph Belluck Quoted Regarding Client in NBC I-Team Article “Sex Abuse Plaintiff Secretly Recorded NYC Teacher Accused of Fondling Kids”
Belluck & Fox, LLP client Nick Papadopoulos was featured in an NBC I-Team interview on September 29, 2020, wherein he courageously stepped forward to share the story of the sexual abuse that he endured from Lawrence Svrcek, a former teacher at St. Demetrios Jamaica Day School and Boy Scout leader. In the interview, Papadopoulous discloses that in 2002 (decades after the assaults), he wiretapped Svrcek, who continued to work as a teacher in the public school system. “I knew that I had to do what I had to do, which was to remove this person away from other kids,” Papadopolous explained.
“The fact that he put himself certainly in emotional harm’s way but also potentially in physical harm’s way to wear a wire, record the perpetrator, and get him out of the public schools? I think all New Yorkers owe him a debt of gratitude,” remarked Papadopoulous’ attorney Joseph Belluck.
Papadopoulous’ case is currently pending in Queens County, NY.