The Golden State, as California is known, has nearly 40 million people. The greatest density lies along the southern Pacific shore in San Francisco, Los Angeles and San Diego. California is an economic engine of its own and contributes much wealth to all Americans. Much of California’s economic growth took place in the mid 20th century when asbestos played a big part in building California.
Statistically, California has the largest number of mesothelioma cases, and that’s not just a big number due to California’s large population. Statistics also show that California leads the American mesothelioma per capita rate. According to the Center for Disease Control in Atlanta, 250 Californians die each year from mesothelioma. Hundreds more are diagnosed with this rare and dreadful disease annually, alarming figures.
In response, California has some of the strictest asbestos laws in the world. Mesothelioma is caused due to asbestos exposure. Legislators took action in the 1980s to contain asbestos products and protect Californian workers from being exposed to airborne asbestos fibers. California courts followed their legislative lead. Now, California’s civil justice system recognizes mesothelioma victims’ plight. Courts in California are the easiest in America for mesothelioma lawyers to file, litigate and settle claims.
California civil courts have a distinct reputation for being pro-plaintiff. Some of America’s largest mesothelioma lawsuit awards and negotiated settlements happened in California. That included punitive damage awards overtop of actual costs incurred by ill plaintiffs. Some of these settlements were for wrongful death suits as well as awards mesothelioma lawyers negotiated for living patients. All claims stemmed from negligent manufacturers that allowed innocent workers to use their asbestos products.
Asbestos Use in California
California mines supplied a significant amount of raw asbestos materials to the American asbestos industry. Asbestos is a common substance in many California regions and occurs close to the surface. This made for economical sourcing. Thousands of tons of chrysotile and amphibole asbestos ore were harvested from the turn of the 20th century until demand for asbestos waned in the late 1970s. Raw asbestos fibers found their way into hundreds of uses in industrial, commercial and residential applications.
One of the biggest consumers of asbestos-containing materials (ACM) was the United States military. California was home to large Navy, Air Force, Army, Marine and Coast Guard bases, especially during World War II. The U.S. Navy was the largest ACM user and filled their ships with asbestos products since it was fireproof, non-corrosive and an excellent insulator. That put every sailor and shipyard worker at high-risk for airborne asbestos fiber exposure.
Civilian occupations also had high risk for asbestos exposure. Thousands of California workers supported the military constructing vessels, aircraft and vehicles. Every military building constructed from the 1930s to the 1980s used asbestos products, from their foundations up to the roofs.
The highest-risk California occupations for asbestos exposure and developing mesothelioma were:
- Shipyard and dockyard workers
- Welders and metal fabricators
- Boilermakers, pipefitters, and steamfitters
- Insulators in ships, planes, and buildings
- Chemical factory and power plant technicians
- Carpenters and construction workers
- Renovation and demolition specialists
- Mechanics, millwrights, and machinists
- Masons, bricklayers and concrete placers
Mesothelioma cases are recorded in all these California occupations. Some mesothelioma victims had direct exposure to asbestos fibers while others had secondary exposure from being around workers using ACM products.
Products using asbestos included:
- Boiler liners and fire guards
- Insulation in pipes and ducts
- Insulation in vehicles and buildings
- High heat and friction products like brake pads and clutch discs
- Electric wire and cable coatings
- Cement powder for concrete and mortar
- Welding rods and protective clothing
- Roofing, flooring, and siding
- Drywall board, tape, and joint compound
- Gaskets, hoses, and valves
- Paint, caulking, sealants and adhesive
California Asbestos Laws and Regulations
The California Air Resources Board (CARB) is the state’s primary body regulating how asbestos products are handled during removal and disposal. Despite no new asbestos products being used in California for decades, there are still millions of buildings and equipment pieces containing asbestos. Workers regularly repair or demolish products with ACM, and this regulatory body ensures they’re safely protected.
California adheres to rules and regulations set out by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA). Being so large, California also has its own worker health and safety body called California Occupational Safety and Health Administration (CalOSHA).
California civil courts have masses of mesothelioma case law and precedent rulings accrued after decades of asbestos litigation. One key difference in California civil law compared to other states is their statute of limitations concerning mesothelioma lawsuits. Californians have a general one-year period to file lawsuits in personal injury cases. However, California’s liberal civil system allows exceptions on a per-case basis.
Retaining a California Mesothelioma Lawyer
Mesothelioma litigation is a complex field. Patients suffering from mesothelioma should retain an experienced and specialized mesothelioma attorney. An accredited mesothelioma lawyer has the knowledge and resources to successfully negotiate the highest possible settlements in the fastest time.