Naval Station – Pascagoula was located in the state of Mississippi bordering the Gulf of Mexico. In November 2006, the station was formally closed down. Prior to its closure it had been a critical military port in the region. It had occupied part of a large manmade island since construction on the Station began in 1988. During its fourteen years of service, Naval Station Pascagoula served as the homeport for both regular Navy and Coast Guard ships based in the Gulf region.
The Naval Station served as a ship maintenance site, and is bordered by several other shipbuilding, and ship maintenance sites nearby. During World War II, and up in to the 1970’s regulations on asbestos were minimal to non-existent. Since 1975 the protections for workers in asbestos industries have been improving, but even today, people are exposed to asbestos through their employment, leading to the chance of contracting one of several asbestos related illnesses, such as asbestosis or mesothelioma. Workers at the Naval Station Pascagoula, like workers at other ship building and ship maintenance facilities, may have come in contact with asbestos and asbestos products on a regular basis as a part of their employment. Ships frequently have asbestos products used in and around their boilers and pipes, as well as in flooring and ceiling tiles.
Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral that is made up of long, fine fibers. These fibers separate relatively easily, and float in the air. People working in the area may inhale some fibers, while other fibers stick to the workers’ clothing. Those fibers on clothing can go airborne later, possibly exposing family members to asbestos related illness. When the fibers enter the lungs after traveling through the trachea, they enter the alveoli where the lungs exchange waste carbon dioxide gas in the blood stream for oxygen. When the body tries to eliminate the asbestos fibers it produces cells that engulf the fibers. The cells then make a liquid that works to dissolve the asbestos fiber, but that can also irritate the lining of the lungs.
For many years no visible damage occurs from the asbestos exposure, but over time the irritation of the lungs causes scar tissue to develop. The scar tissue makes the gas exchange in the lungs inefficient, and inhibits the ability of the lungs to expand. As a result breathing becomes difficult and painful. This condition is referred to as asbestosis. asbestosis is related to other diseases of the lungs including high blood pressure of the lungs that can lead to heart damage, and malignant mesothelioma, a rare form of asbestos cancer that affects the lungs in it’s most common form (Pleural mesothelioma).
People injured by asbestos exposure may bring lawsuits to compensate them for their loss. Family members may also bring lawsuits for death and injury to the asbestos worker. The injured party usually begins the process by speaking to a lawyer after an initial diagnosis of an asbestos related disease. The lawyer has the injured person (the plaintiff) answer questions about how, when, and where they were exposed to the asbestos. The lawyer will also ask the plaintiff to sign release of information forms that allow the lawyer to obtain copies of medical and employment records. After reviewing this information the lawyer determines whether the lawsuit should proceed.
Some mesothelioma cases settle out of court without going through a trial. In most cases both sides work together to reach a settlement. The plaintiff does not usually have to pay for the attorney out of his pocket. Most personal injury attorneys work on a contingency basis. That means that the lawyer only gets paid if he or she is able to recover money for the plaintiff. The lawyer gets a percentage of whatever money they collect.