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Job training program for students leads to asbestos litigation

Most North Carolina readers are likely aware of the dangers of asbestos and the health issues that it can cause. Because of this, federal law requires that asbestos removal be performed by trained individuals who have the proper equipment and gear to prevent exposure. Anyone who violates this law may be subject to federal prosecution and civil asbestos litigation. In an out-of-state case, three men who ran a job training program now face civil suits by former students who claim that they unknowingly removed asbestos materials during a building renovation.

The high school students worked on the job site from Sept. 2005 to March 2006, where they reportedly used only basic tools to remove tiles, pipes and other asbestos-laden materials. These former students recently testified in federal court that their clothes and hair were covered in dust after leaving the site. Some even breathed in the dust, and one man who worked at the site said that he now has frequent chest pains and nose bleeds.

An Environmental Protection Agency representative stated in court that as many as 68 individuals may have been affected by asbestos exposure at this work site. The three men who ran the work program all made plea deals in federal and state criminal cases and will each serve two years. They will likely pay restitution, though the amount has yet to be decided.

In the civil cases, each plaintiff seeks an unspecified amount in damages for emotional suffering and potential physical injury. It is possible that the outcome of the state and federal criminal cases will help them in their asbestos litigation, as it provides evidence that the men knowingly put the students at risk. Asbestos exposure can have devastating, long-term effects on those exposed and their loved ones. Anyone in North Carolina who has suffered injury or illness as a result of asbestos exposure may benefit from examining their options under our state's personal injury laws.

Source: The Sacramento Bee, Asbestos exposure victims in Firm Build case speak in court, Victor Patton, Dec. 20, 2013

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