Frequently Asked Questions

Questions About Asbestos & Mesothelioma Cancer

Asbestos

Asbestos (5)

What is Asbestos?

Asbestos is a mineral that is crushed and milled into a fine particulate, and shipped to corporations for building and insulation materials. Asbestos mines around the world, many in Canada, produced over 250 million tons of asbestos for use in the United States between 1890 and 1970. Asbestos was added to a variety of products including insulation, automotive brakes, fireproofing, pipe covering, cements, refractory materials, gaskets, floor tiles and joint compounds.

The dangers of asbestos were known to the companies that made these products as early as the 1920s. However, asbestos was sold and used widely without warnings up until the 1980s. Asbestos products are still not banned in the United States and other countries but are no longer used as widely. Alternative materials were available that could have been used in place of asbestos.

During the installation, repair, maintenance, renovation and removal of asbestos materials, the products were cut, scraped, sanded and otherwise altered. Some materials, such as cements, were mixed at job sites using raw asbestos fibers. These processes created dust, which was breathed in by the laborers working with and around these materials. Dust from these products also traveled throughout buildings and factories and ships, and remained airborne for weeks. When swept, these materials were re-suspended in the air — where they were breathed in again by workers in the vicinity.

A wide array of workers were exposed to asbestos including shipyard workers, factory workers, pipefitters, sheet metal workers, plumbers, laborers, machinists, mechanics, powerhouse workers, and electricians. One cloud of dust from asbestos products can contain millions or billions of fibers, and even a small amount of asbestos can cause lung damage. Injuries also occur to people who washed their family member’s clothing after they returned home from work and to individuals who used asbestos products, such as floor tiles, in their homes.

Often, individuals won’t immediately recall how they were exposed to asbestos, and may believe that they were not exposed to asbestos at all. A careful examination and review of a person’s work and life history often reveals exposures to asbestos products that may not be readily apparent.

If I Don’t Remember How I was Exposed To Asbestos, What Can I Do?

It’s quite common for people with an asbestos-related disease not to recall the exact time, place, or nature of their asbestos exposure. This is largely due to the fact that these diseases can take decades to appear following exposure. Also, asbestos was used in so many everyday products, from talcum powder to cement to automotive brakes, that some people were exposed without realizing it. And many people knowingly handled asbestos but didn’t know that it was dangerous until much later because companies hid this information from the public.

At Belluck & Fox, LLP, we devote a substantial amount of time to reviewing your work and life history to identify possible exposures to asbestos. In many instances, a person may not be aware that certain products, such as floor tiles, brake linings, cements and even hair dryers contained asbestos. In addition, we are familiar with the use and presence of asbestos at many work sites and factories, including powerhouses, shipyards, schools and large buildings. We can find the witnesses and documents that will help establish your exposure to asbestos.

Belluck & Fox, LLP spends hours researching and investigating each asbestos case. We also use our substantial experience to help us investigate how you were exposed to asbestos and the companies responsible for your exposure. Our inventory of cases is limited to clients with serious injuries and we devote significant time and resources to each case.

What Types of Products Contained Asbestos?

  • Pipe Covering
  • Cements
  • Acoustical Plaster
  • Brake Linings
  • Sprayed-on Fireproofing
  • Gaskets
  • Floor Tiles
  • Insulating Blankets
  • Cloth/textiles
  • Paint
  • Paper
  • Cigarette Filters
  • Hair Dryers
  • Rope
  • Gloves
  • Packing materials
  • Insulating Tape
  • Mastics
  • Millboard
  • Joint Compounds
  • Refractory products
  • Siding
  • Block Insulation
  • Asphalt products
  • Ceiling Tiles
  • Boilers
  • Pumps
  • Valves
  • Pipe
  • Electrical Products
  • Turbines
  • Lab Equipment

This is just a partial list of asbestos-containing products. Asbestos was often used as an ingredient or component in these products between 1942 and the 1980s, and there were some products such as gaskets that contained asbestos well after the 1980s.

Why Was Asbestos Used in Building And Insulation Products?

The primary reason that asbestos was used in building products was as a binder or filler material. It was cheap and easily available. It is stringy and resilient, and thus made a good binder. Its resilience also reduced the breakage of the products between the factory and the worksite. In pipe covering and other materials, asbestos created air pockets which provided heat resistance.

Asbestos was marketed for its “fire resistant” qualities. In reality, at approximately 1200 degrees, asbestos transforms into an inert mineral. Other materials were available, even in the 1930′s and thereafter, that could have been used (and, in fact, were used) as substitutes for asbestos without any sacrifice in product integrity or heat resistance. The asbestos industry peddled asbestos as a “magic mineral,” creating a demand for the material, without advising of the dangers of asbestos. As a result, thousands of American workers were injured and killed. It was unnecessary and could have been avoided.

Crime Victims (6)

I Was Attacked in a Parking Deck and the Assailant Was Never Caught. What Legal Rights do I Have?

Even if you cannot sue the perpetrator, you may be able to bring an action against the owner or manager of the property where the crime occurred for their failure to provide adequate security or lighting. This is known as premises liability; most state courts impose liability on landowners or those who are responsible for maintaining the property for activities or conditions occurring on the land.

What is Date rape?

Date rape, or acquaintance rape, is when the rapist is someone the victim knows: a date, friend, boyfriend/girlfriend, classmate, or anyone else who is not a stranger. The vast majority of rape or sexual assault victims are assaulted by someone they know. The law does not make any distinction between stranger rape and date rape.

I’m Not Sure if I was Date Raped or Not and I’m Scared. What Should I Do?

Rape is scary. If you participated in nonconsensual sex, meaning you had sex with someone you know, but you did not want to and you told them no, then you were most likely date raped. The first thing you should do is to seek police and medical attention. If you do not remember the events or they are fuzzy, it is possible you were date raped using a drug – such as Rohypnol or GHB. After seeking medical attention and contacting the police, you should contact a Belluck & Fox, LLP lawyer to discuss your situation and possible claim.

What are my Rights in a Police Brutality Claim?

Under both state and federal law, police officers may not use excessive force on citizens in the performance of their duties. Because police brutality cases can be very complex, you need experienced and aggressive attorneys to successfully handle them. If you have been victimized by police brutality, you may be entitled to an award of damages, not only from the officers themselves, but also from the municipality or county that employed the officers. Contact Belluck & Fox, LLP attorneys today.

What Does it Mean to “walk” a Criminal Conviction?

In many states, a victim can “walk” a criminal conviction obtained by prosecutors into civil court. This means that a victim would not have to prove a crime was committed, only that physical and emotional damage was experienced by the crime victim. Many states, including New York, will extend the time frame to bring a case for crime victims.

Should I Contact a Lawyer to Help me with my Criminal Victim Case?

Yes. Crime victims turn to the criminal justice system to prosecute and punish the perpetrators of a crime. In addition, victims are entitled to seek civil justice to address the full impact of the crimes on their lives and the lives of their loved ones. Belluck & Fox, LLP attorneys evaluate your potential claim against the perpetrators of a crime and those who enabled, through their negligence, the crime to occur. Contact us today.

Mesothelioma (5)

If I Was Exposed To Asbestos Many Years Ago, Why Was I Just Diagnosed With Mesothelioma, Lung Cancer or Asbestosis?

Asbestos illnesses and cancers are diseases of latency. This means that injuries from exposure to asbestos fibers do not become apparent until at least ten years after exposure. In many cases, diseases occur over 60 years after exposure to asbestos fibers. Therefore, individuals exposed to asbestos in the 1940′s, 50′s, 60′s, 7’0s, and 80’s may be diagnosed with an asbestos disease now.

What is Mesothelioma?

Mesothelioma is a cancer of the mesothelial cells. Those cells line the body’s cavities and internal organs. When asbestos fibers are inhaled or ingested, the fibers can become lodged in the pleura, the thin, delicate membrane that lines and encases the lung. They can also lodge in the stomach or other organs.

The asbestos fibers irritate and create changes in the cells of the pleura, causing tumors to develop. This is known as pleural mesothelioma, the most common type of mesothelioma. Mesothelioma in the stomach lining is peritoneal mesothelioma. The cancer can develop in other parts of the body, too. It can attack the tissue sac that contains the heart or the tissues that surround the testes.

As the disease progresses, the cancerous cells can metastasize, or spread. As time passes, breathing, sleeping and eating become more difficult. Even the normal activities of daily living can become a challenge.

Types of Mesothelioma

The type of mesothelioma that a person develops depends on the primary organ that is affected.

There are four types of mesothelioma:

  • Pleural Mesothelioma. This form of asbestos cancer is found in the outer lining of the lungs called the mesothelium. This is the most common type of mesothelioma and has been studied to a far greater degree than any of the other forms of the disease.
  • Peritoneal Mesothelioma. Peritoneal mesothelioma affects the lining of the abdomen. Fewer than 20 percent of mesothelioma cases diagnosed in the U.S. each year are peritoneal.
  • Pericardial Mesothelioma. Pericardial mesothelioma attacks the pericardium or the tissue sac that contains the heart and the primary blood vessels. Pericardial mesothelioma accounts for just one percent of all mesothelioma cases.
  • Tunica Vaginalis Mesothelioma. This type of mesothelioma is found in the tissues surrounding the testes. It is the rarest form of the disease, affecting less than one percent of all mesothelioma patients.

What are the symptoms of Mesothelioma?

The symptoms patients experience vary depending on the type of mesothelioma they have as well as the stage of the disease. Symptoms can also vary from patient to patient. Below are the primary symptoms experienced by mesothelioma patients.

Pleural Mesothelioma Symptoms

Pleural mesothelioma symptoms are similar to a number of other respiratory diseases. However, anyone with a history of asbestos exposure should be aware of the symptoms and seek medical attention immediately if exhibiting any of the symptoms.

Symptoms commonly associated with pleural mesothelioma include:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain
  • Pleural Effusion
  • Weight loss
  • Persistent cough
  • Loss of appetite

Peritoneal Mesothelioma Symptoms

Peritoneal mesothelioma patients most often experience the following symptoms:

  • Ascites (buildup of abdominal fluid)
  • Weight loss
  • Abdominal pain
  • Fever
  • Night sweats

Pericardial Mesothelioma Symptoms

  • Extreme chest pain
  • Heart palpitations
  • Shortness of breath
  • Constant and acute coughing

Tunica Vaginalis Mesothelioma Symptoms

With so few documented cases of this cancer, little is known about the symptoms. However, medical articles detailing specific cases point to a testicular mass as the predominant symptom.

How is Mesothelioma diagnosed?

Diagnosing mesothelioma can be difficult for physicians, especially if your family doctor or pulmonologist is not familiar with asbestos-related diseases. Many patients suffer from debilitating symptoms for months before they are properly diagnosed and treatments begin.

When you go to the doctor with the presence of symptoms, your medical team will use several tests and procedures to determine the cause of your discomfort. The doctor will begin by asking questions about your symptoms and when you started experiencing them.

It is important that you let your physician know that you were exposed to asbestos if you suspect you have mesothelioma. Your doctor should have a thorough understanding of your background and history to help ensure an appropriate diagnosis.

Diagnostic Imaging Technologies

Many technologies are available to allow doctors to view organs and tissues and detect the presence of fluid or tumors. Imaging technologies help your doctor not only make a mesothelioma diagnosis but also determine a treatment plan and track your response to the treatments.

  • X-Ray Imaging
  • Computed Tomography (CT)
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)
  • Positron Emission Tomography (PET)
  • PET-CT (Integrated Positron Emission Tomography – Computed Tomography)

What are the treatment options for those diagnosed with Mesothelioma?

While there is currently no known cure for malignant mesothelioma, treatments are available with the most common being surgery, chemotherapy and radiation therapy.

Your doctor will recommend one treatment or a combinat