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$80 Million Settlement Includes Largest Ever Medical Monitoring Fund in an Asbestos Case

An $80 million settlement has been reached in a class-action lawsuit resulting from asbestos exposure that occurred during the renovation of a Jackson County courthouse in Kansas City, Missouri three decades ago. Workers were exposed to asbestos dust. Courthouse employees were exposed. And anyone else who happened to visit the courthouse between 1983 and 1984 was exposed. The Kansas City Star reports that plaintiffs in the class-action lawsuit testified that, “dust and grit coated nearly everything” in one of the offices on the fifth floor of the courthouse.

Plaintiffs also testified that, asbestos dust “blew out of the air vents after workmen sawed through old heating pipes insulated with asbestos.” The workers “tracked the dust through the building as they hauled the pieces of pipe down the freight elevator and out to a dumpster in the parking lot,” they said. “They took no precautions. No masks, no gloves, no warning signs.”

One courthouse employee died in 2010 at the age of 56 from complications of inhaling asbestos fibers that “swirled around the courthouse during that renovation project.” Her heirs sued the county and company that did the work (U.S. Engineering Co.) and received a $10.4 million settlement from both.

Attorneys for the plaintiffs argued that they, along with thousands of other people, should be entitled to free medical testing for the rest of their lives. Rather than go to trial, Jackson County and U.S. Engineering agreed to settle the case. “The settlement includes up to $25 million in attorney’s fees and costs to litigate the case,” reports the Kansas City Star. “The rest will go into a medical monitoring fund, thought to be the largest ever established in a Missouri asbestos case.”

“Some 7,500 people may be eligible for the medical screenings. They include people who worked at the courthouse, as well as jurors, attorneys and jail inmates.” The fund will cover the costs of diagnostic tests for those exposed for the next 30 years.

If you have been exposed to asbestos, see your doctor right away. There is no safe level of asbestos exposure, so even brief exposures could lead to mesothelioma. Even worse is, It can take decades for symptoms of mesothelioma to develop. This means, even if you do not have any symptoms, you could still have the disease. Your doctor can establish a monitoring plan and administer special tests to help detect disease sooner.

Although there is no cure for mesothelioma, early detection often leads to better treatment options and outcomes. See your doctor today.

 

Sources

"Asbestos and Cancer Risk." American Cancer Society. American Cancer Society, Inc., 2018. Web. 30 Apr. 2018.

Hendricks, Mike. "$80 Million Settlement Reached in Jackson County Courthouse Asbestos Case." Kansascity.com. The Kansas City Star, 2017. Web. 30 Apr. 2018.