Both public and non-profit private schools in North Carolina must comply with the Asbestos Hazard Emergency Response Act (AEHRA), an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) law which sets forth regulations designed to protect students and staff from developing a potentially fatal asbestos-related disease. Charter schools and schools affiliated with religious institutions must also adhere to these regulations as well as any relevant state laws.
Asbestos is a naturally-occurring substance that was used in many U.S. products including tiles, insulation, automotive products, talcum powder and potting soil. It is now strictly regulated because of its causal link to diseases such as asbestosis and mesothelioma. Asbestos-related illnesses typically take many years to develop, therefore people exposed decades ago are just now being diagnosed and coming forward with wrongful death claims.
The recent California wildfires have swept through the state, destroying hundreds of thousands of acres. The Thomas Fire was one of the largest in California history and covered about 238,500 acres. These large-scale wildfires are not limited to California. North Carolina has already had over 100 wildfires this month. Those living through these fires should be aware that these wildfires have an asbestos exposure risk.
An asbestos abatement company has lost its license after being sued by the Attorney General's Office last year. The company was contracted to perform a $65 million renovation project at a Massachusetts high school and is accused of illegally conducting demolition and renovation. Unable to pay the civil penalties it incurred, the company forfeited its license to perform asbestos abatement work. Also named in the lawsuit for failure to adequately supervise the work was a construction company and two subcontractors that were hired to monitor the asbestos removal.
For years, in North Carolina and throughout the country, asbestos was used in many products, such as tiles, insulation, automotive parts and consumer products. It is now widely known that regular asbestos exposure may result in a fatal asbestos-related disease, like mesothelioma. Therefore, asbestos use is highly regulated by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
According to a recent study, North Carolinians, like the rest of the country, using off-road vehicles (ORVs), such as all-terrain vehicles, four-wheel-drive vehicles and off-road motorcycles, may be exposed to naturally occurring asbestos fibers. When driving these ORVs, dust is often kicked-up which can put drivers at risk of asbestos exposure.
North Carolina firefighters face hazards, including smoke, fire and explosions. They may also be exposed to asbestos, which causes fatal diseases, such as mesothelioma and asbestosis. Asbestos fibers are most dangerous when disturbed and released into the air that often occurs when buildings are burning and firefighters are inside attempting to put out the fire. According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, firefighters have double the rate of malignant mesothelioma, a fatal asbestos-related disease, than the general population.
North Carolinian military members may serve abroad, and American employers may have employees working in other countries. But, American-made products are found throughout the world. As such, asbestos exposure does not need to happen in the U.S. for an American citizen to pursue asbestos litigation. In addition, foreign claimants have standing -- just like U.S. citizens -- to bring civil lawsuits in U.S. courts.
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.
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.