The Carolina Shipping Company is based in Charleston, South Carolina, where it began operations in 1927. Initially, the company owned and operated its own ships and employed its own longshoremen. Eventually, the company’s own ships were sold, and the company itself focused on providing stevedoring and shipping agency services to ports throughout the South Atlantic Coast region.
By 1989, Carolina Shipping Company was acquired by Biehl International, a large steamship agency based in Houston, Texas. The longshoremen operation is now run by Stevedore Services of America of Seattle, Washington.
According to its corporate profile, Carolina Shipping Company is primarily in the business of “Passenger Transportation Arrangement”. As what is officially known as a “steamship agency,” the company specializes in “…meeting the requirements of international liner services, tramp services, and tanker owners, managers, operators, and charterers”. The company has received ISO 9000-2000 certification for quality, safety and reliability.
Virtually all ships built and delivered between 1930 and 1980 contained a great deal of asbestos. Shipboard fires are substantially more serious than fires on land; there is no real escape except overboard, and due to the amounts of fuel on board as well as paint and varnishes often used, such fires tend to burn hot and fast. Because of its fire-resistant characteristics, asbestos coatings and insulation were used on nearly every component of sea-going vessels, from pipe-fittings to bulkheads. Anyone who worked below decks for any length of time was likely to be exposed.
The suppression of information regarding asbestos-related diseases like asbestosis (A condition of scarring within the lungs) and mesothelioma (A particulary fatal form of asbestos cancer) was primarily on the part of the asbestos industry itself – which had vast amounts of profit at stake – and the U.S. government. In the case of the latter, the cover-up appears to date from the Franklin Roosevelt Administration, which feared “disturbances in the labor element” among shipyard workers at a time of national emergency. In fact, the federal government did issue safety “guidelines” for asbestos workers in 1943, but these were not enforced until the 1970s, when discovery of the “Sumner Simpson Papers” in an office of the Raysbestos Corporation exposed the industry’s conspiracy of silence.
Company records, like that of the Carolina Shipping Company, could (and certainly would) be subject to subpoena and used as evidence in a legal proceeding. It is in cases such as these that the challenges involved in an asbestos lawsuit become apparent. Often, the plaintiff will need to identify the specific (A) location of exposure, (B) product(s) that caused the exposure, and (C) manufacturer of such products. There will likely be multiple defendants.
The good news is that many law firms are building and maintaining vast databases of such information. If you are seeking representation in an asbestos case, it is worthwhile to find out if the mesothelioma lawyer or firms you are considering have access to such a database.