Many industries hid evidence of asbestos exposure in workplace

21 Apr 2018 by under Legal, News

800px Bauer Elementary ASBESTOS 2 100x100 Many industries hid evidence of asbestos exposure in workplaceBeginning in the 1920s, medical professionals linked exposure to , particularly in the workplace, to mesothelioma, a rare but deadly form of lung cancer. In the decades that followed, the use of in the U.S. declined. Industries that continued to manufacture -containing products were required to have their workers wear protective clothing such as coveralls or similar full-body clothing, head covering, gloves and foot coverings. Despite these protective measures, workers can still be exposed.

Asbestos was commonly used in a wide range of building construction materials for insulation, like roof shingles, ceiling and floor tiles, paper products, and cement products. It was also used in automobile clutches, brakes and transmission parts, heat-resistant fabrics, packaging, gaskets and coatings. People who worked in these industries, as well as shipbuilders and even miners, were likely exposed to high levels of asbestos and thus at risk for mesothelioma.

According to EWG Action Fund/Asbestos Nation, a nonprofit organization that educates the public and lobbies to protect health and the environment, many companies were aware their workplaces were contaminated with asbestos but hid the dangers of asbestos exposure from their employees.

For example, the Engelhard Company, which later became a subsidiary of BASF, tested its talc in the 1970s and discovered that samples were contaminated with asbestos. The company hid these tests and continued with the mining of talc, putting its workers at risk. In 1979, the family of an employee who died from mesothelioma sued the company. During a deposition of an Englehard executive, the talc test results were uncovered.

In 1983, Glenn Hemstock, who was serving as the company’s vice president of research, acknowledged under oath that the company knew the talc it mined and used to manufacture products was contaminated with asbestos. The following year, the case was settled and the family signed a nondisclosure agreement. Hemstock sent a memo to its employees to gather any documents relating to its talc products. Court documents suggest that the company and its attorneys went to great lengths to destroy any evidence linking its talc to asbestos.

A class action lawsuit has been filed in federal court against BASF and its former law firm alleging they conspired to destroy evidence in thousands of asbestos personal injury cases brought against BASF and Engelhard. Despite attempts by BASF to dismiss the lawsuit, a federal judge in April 2016 found that the company “had a duty to preserve evidence when it was relevant in a prior lawsuit and where it was reasonably foreseeable that the evidence would be relevant to anticipated lawsuits of nearly identical subject matter and similarly situated adversaries.”

Asbestos victims and their family members in this class action lawsuit now see hope in their quest for justice.

Source: Asbestos Nation

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