A man who worked in various blue-collar jobs during the 1970s has been diagnosed with the rare asbestos cancer mesothelioma, and is bringing suit against many of his former employers in order to recover damages related to his illness.
Patrick A. Brewer, along with his wife, Connie S. Brewer, of Nebraska, are claiming that Brewer developed mesothelioma after working in various positions at sundry companies. Brewer was a laborer at Wilson’s Meat Packing Plant in 1970 and at John Henshaw Construction in 1971; a railroad car repairman for Transco from 1972 to 1973; a machine operator for National Friction in 1971; and a mechanic operator, again at National Friction, in 1973.
Any or all of these positions may have put Brewer at risk for mesothelioma, a cancer which generally strikes manual laborers due to its association with asbestos exposure. A mineral material which was once widely used for insulation and fireproofing purposes, asbestos was nearly ubiquitous in factories, plants, shipyards and railroad yards, and construction sites, asbestos can lead to this dreadful cancer when it is inhaled or ingested, especially over time. Although there is currently no level of asbestos exposure which is considered safe, repeated or excessive exposure does increase the odds of being diagnosed with a disease such as mesothelioma cancer or asbestosis.
Mesothelioma is only diagnosed in roughly 3,000 new patients each year in the United States, but it takes its toll on those patients. Most of them will die within 18 months of being diagnosed. Because mesothelioma has a lengthy latency period—the disease can remain dormant and asymptomatic within the body for up to 50 years after the exposure to asbestos began—it’s usually not discovered until the patient is elderly. Too often, the cancer is also advanced to such a stage that it is virtually untreatable. There is no cure for mesothelioma, and many patients enter hospice care soon after being diagnosed.