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North Carolina Asbestos Law Blog

The benefits of asbestos trust disclosure reforms

In the past few years, there has been a detrimental trend in North Carolina asbestos litigation, according to the director of the Progressive Policy Institute's Center for Civil Justice (CCJ). The trend involves plaintiffs' lawyers hiding pertinent facts. The CCJ director suggests that the implementation of transparency laws, such as the ones recently introduced in 12 other states, would be beneficial for current and future plaintiffs.

The CCJ director notes that evidence is being withheld from juries regarding the companies' asbestos products to which the plaintiff was exposed. In attempts to inflate awards against more profitable companies, plaintiffs may not disclose information regarding their exposure to other, smaller companies' asbestos products. He states that this occurs because asbestos exposure victims may be compensated through two avenues-trusts or litigation.

$480 million North Carolina asbestos trust fund case

Recently, a North Carolina federal judge decided whether Safety National Casualty, Corp., must pay $480 million to the mesothelioma fund. The fund was established in the Chapter 11 bankruptcy plan for Garlock Sealing Technologies, Inc., after Garlock declared bankruptcy in 2010, following years of asbestos litigation. Safety National claims that Garlock is not covered under the $5 million excess policy that Safety National issued to Garlock over 30-years ago.

Garlock manufactured gaskets, which caused cancer in workers. In Garlock's bankruptcy case, the judge ruled that the company was minimally liable for lung damage caused by the asbestos. The type of asbestos used to seal the gaskets was not the type that leads to fatal asbestos-related disease. As such, the judge set Garlock's asbestos liability at $125 million. However, due to continued pressure from asbestos victims, an eventual settlement rose to $480 million.

Clinical trial for pleural mesothelioma drug ends

Mesothelioma patients may be disappointed to learn that a trial of a new mesothelioma drug, anetumab ravtansine, was stopped after the drug was proven to be less effective than an existing drug, vinorelbine. The results of Bayer's Phase II clinical trial showed that the new drug designed to treat recurrent malignant mesothelioma did not slow progression of mesothelioma better than vinorelbine and therefore the trial did not meet its primary endpoint.

One of the reasons the outcome of this trial is so disappointing is because malignant pleural mesothelioma is a difficult disease to treat; patients rarely even respond to the maximum tolerable dose of chemotherapy. Mesothelioma chemotherapy is often an ineffective treatment because it destroys not only cancer cells but also normal, healthy cells. The new drug was designed to avoid this problem by targeting only tumor cells. Anetumab ravtansine is an antibody-drug conjugate which targets tumor cells and delivers a combination of cancer-fighting medication and an antibody that fights mesothelin, a protein that is overproduced by cancer cells.

State asbestos hazard management

The North Carolina Asbestos Hazard Management Program (AHMP) provides information to the public about the dangers of asbestos and how to control or eliminate exposure. The program is administered by the Health Hazards Control Unit (HHCU), which consists of industrial hygiene professionals who also accredit individuals that perform asbestos management. All individuals performing asbestos management in North Carolina must be accredited by the AHMP and any plans to demolish a building must be reported to the HHCU.

The Environmental Protection Agency rules mirror the HHCU in its requirements of inspection and notification prior to demolishing or renovating. These rules are in place to ensure that only accredited professionals handle asbestos, thereby preventing fatal asbestos exposure. Asbestos-containing materials must be removed from any building prior to demolition by accredited professionals.

Asbestos found in makeup sold by national retail chain

An investigative report recently had several samples of makeup tested to determine if there was anything included in the products that was not listed as an ingredient. The report tested the "Just Shine Shimmer Powder" sold by Justice, a popular girls' apparel store. According to the Scientific Analytical Institute in Greensboro, the makeup tested positive not only for heavy metals barium, chromium, lead and selenium, but also tested positive for asbestos.

The Director of Research and Analytical Services at the lab warns about the dangers of asbestos, especially for young children. When inhaled, asbestos fibers get into the lungs and can lead to diseases such as mesothelioma and other forms of cancer. Children who are exposed to asbestos-containing products may still have these fibers in their bodies 50 years from now and malignant mesothelioma may take 20 years or more to surface, according to the National Cancer Institute.

Governor vetoes "garbage juice" spray bill

North Carolina governor, Roy Cooper, recently vetoed legislation that would allow landfills to dispose the liquid that leaks from trash by spraying it into the air in a currently untested process called leachate aerosolization. The process was accepted in other states, but Cooper was hesitant to endorse a measure that may pose a safety hazard to people and the environment. Critics of the bill call the spray, "garbage juice," and question whether mold, viruses and asbestos could travel once released into the air.

The debate over House Bill 576 centers on whether the spraying process is safe. Proponents of the bill argue that while the water will dissipate into the air, contaminants will fall back into the landfill because they are too heavy to travel. Although the bill's sponsor claimed that the technology was safe, he presented no proof or data to support his assertion. In his veto message, Cooper stated that scientists, not the legislature, should determine the safety of such technology.

The benefits of robotic EPP for mesothelioma patients

Treatments for mesothelioma have become more abundant and more advanced in the last ten years. While there is still no cure, patients are living longer and studies into new treatments have provided encouraging results. One controversial procedure may be more of a viable option due to the utilization of modern technology. According to a renowned thoracic surgeon, robotic surgery may change the future of mesothelioma treatment.

Radiation and chemotherapy are two of the most common nonsurgical treatments for mesothelioma. Radiation therapy involves the use of high-dose radiation to reduce or eradicate malignant tumors, whereas chemotherapy may be used to eliminate live cancer cells and slow the growth of malignant tumors. Both of these nonsurgical treatments are often used in combination with surgical procedures to ensure the best possible outcome for patients.

Asbestos exposure claims for navy veterans

Military veterans comprise about 30 percent of all mesothelioma victims. The majority of those exposed to asbestos in the military are U.S. Navy personnel. Although the Navy surgeon general issued a report in 1939 explaining the hazards of asbestos, North Carolina residents may be surprised to hear that the Navy shipbuilding industry continued to use asbestos for at least another 40 years.

Navy veterans who contracted an asbestos-related disease while in service may be entitled to compensation for medical bills, pain and suffering and, in the event of asbestos-related death, economic loss for surviving family members. The Law Offices of Wallace & Graham has litigated asbestos claims for Navy personnel in nearly all 50 states. We represent those suffering from mesothelioma, asbestosis, lung cancer and other asbestos-related diseases.

Time between mesothelioma surgeries indicative of longer survival

North Carolina residents may be interested to hear that recently, cancer researchers analyzed patients with peritoneal surface cancers to determine if the interval between cytoreductive surgeries with heated hyperthermic intraperitoneal chemotherapy is a marker for survival. Fourteen percent of patients in the study had peritoneal mesothelioma, a form of malignant mesothelioma initially affecting the lining of the abdomen. The other patients had peritoneal appendiceal, colorectal or ovarian cancer-related tumors. The study concludes that patients who live longer between surgeries have a greater chance of longer survival overall.

The researchers used a database of 1,314 patients who had CRS/HIPEC over approximately 22 years and determined there were 103 patients who underwent the procedures more than once. Examination of the 103 patients revealed that those who lived the longest after the first procedure (before undergoing a second) also lived the longest after the second procedure. According to the study, the time interval between surgeries is a major surrogate of tumor biology, which is helpful for doctors in selecting patients for repeat CRS/HIPEC.

Wrongful death suits for survivors of asbestos victims

Exposure to asbestos-containing products may have devastating consequences. If exposed for long periods of time, asbestos-related diseases such as mesothelioma can develop. With no known cure and a lengthy latency period, mesothelioma may claim the lives of those in North Carolina suffering without warning. In those situations, family members of the deceased may file a wrongful death suit to hold responsible parties accountable and receive compensation for medical costs, pain and suffering, loss of income and loss of parental guidance or love and companionship.

Wrongful death suits may be filed for several different circumstances including medical malpractice, elder abuse and exposure to occupational hazards such as asbestos. To prevail in a wrongful death suit for asbestos product exposure the victim's survivors must prove that the defendant caused the victim's death by either their intention to cause harm or negligence, that the survivors suffered monetary injury as a result of the victim's death and that a surviving family member is an official representative of the decedent's estate.

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