Unlawful release of asbestos fibers leads to prison sentences

When individuals are facing criminal charges, they might also face civil charges as well. This occurs when their actions whether deliberate, negligent or accidental, causes injury or death to others. The victims and their loved ones suffering because of their actions often have a cause of action for their losses and damages.

In a case that could have ramifications for North Carolina, a New York property owner and his maintenance manager were each sentenced to 21 months in Federal prison for conspiring to violate two federal statutes that control the release of asbestos into the environment. Because the statutes apply to North Carolina, and the other forty-nine states, the decision could affect North Carolina property owners.

The owner of more than a dozen properties in Malone, New York, and the man that supervised maintenance of the properties, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to violate the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act or “CERCLA” and the federal Clean Air Act.

Asbestos-containing products were discovered during the renovation of several buildings, and both the owner and the maintenance manager directed employees to dispose of the asbestos, which were mostly thermal pipe insulation, without telling either state or federal authorities. The two defendants also pleaded guilty to failing to inform employees that they were dealing with asbestos and to failing to provide proper protective equipment.

Each man received a twenty-one month prison sentence followed by two years of supervised release. The building owner was also required to pay a $25,000 fine and a $300 crime victim assessment fee.

This case serves as another reminder that asbestos product exposure still poses a significant health risk to the general population. Persons who believe that they have been exposed to asbestos fibers should consult a physician at the first sign of respiratory difficulties. If an asbestos-related disease such as mesothelioma or asbestosis is diagnosed, consultation with an attorney who is experienced in handling such cases is an important second step.

Source: eNews Park Forest, “New York Property Owner and Manager Sentenced to 21 Months in Federal Prison for Conspiring to Violate the Clean Air Act,” Sep. 8, 2014