Maine is the northeasternmost state in the country and situated along the Atlantic Ocean. It is the ninth least-populated state at 1.33 million people, with its residents spread among medium-sized cities like Portland, Augusta and Bangor. Despite its modest population, Maine’s mesothelioma death rate ranks highest in the country—largely due to its shipbuilding and construction industries that relied heavily on asbestos for production.
Mesothelioma Cases in Maine
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Maine is one of only two US states (along with Washington) to exceed 20 asbestos-related deaths per one million citizens. As a result, many employers have faced lawsuits for wrongful asbestos exposure.
Workers and family members have filed lawsuits in towns and cities all across Maine. In a landmark case, the wife of a painter who worked for 24 years at Bath Iron Works and developed mesothelioma sued the company for wrongful asbestos exposure. After a series of lawsuits and appeals, a federal judge ruled in favor of the painter and awarded his wife over $323,000 in damages.
Asbestos Use in Maine
As a maritime industrial state, Maine used asbestos extensively during the 20th century. Workers in shipbuilding and construction/demolition industries, the military, pulp and paper mills and other professions likely worked with or around asbestos over the course of their careers.
Shipbuilding in Maine goes back hundreds of years, of both military ships and submarines as well as pleasure crafts. During WWII, Maine shipbuilders produced over 1,000 vessels for the war effort. Asbestos was frequently used in shipbuilding for its versatile and resilient nature. Fire-resistant and lightweight, asbestos was a useful material in insulation, gaskets and other nautical parts.
The construction and demolition industries in Maine have also proven responsible for asbestos exposure. Most homes in the state were constructed in the 1970s or earlier and contain asbestos. Construction workers who installed insulation, roofing, siding, pipes or flooring—or who were otherwise present at a construction site—may have been exposed to asbestos. Workers involved in the demolition of old homes may also be at risk.
Military veterans are at increased risk for asbestos exposure as many buildings and vessels were built with asbestos, often hastily. Veterans who served at Brunswick Naval Air Station, Dow Air Force Base or naval ships constructed before the 1970s may have been exposed to asbestos.
Other high-risk occupations for asbestos exposure and developing mesothelioma in Maine include:
Employees who worked indirectly with asbestos or who spent time in a building constructed with asbestos may also be at risk of developing mesothelioma.
Employees who worked in any capacity at the following job sites may have been exposed:
- Ships, boats or dockyards
- Factories, plants or mills
- Construction sites
- Military bases and naval vessels
- Old buildings that underwent major renovation
Maine Asbestos Laws and Regulations
The Maine Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) regulates the management and removal of asbestos products in the state. At present, no laws require removal of undisturbed asbestos, but proper handling and disposal are necessary when buildings are renovated or demolished. DEP regulates this process.
Only professionals who are licensed by the state of Maine are allowed to handle asbestos. Advanced notice is required for removing asbestos in an area larger than three square feet. A certified transporter must then take the removed asbestos to a landfill equipped to handle asbestos.
Due to the high rate of mesothelioma cases and deaths in Maine, many victims have filed claims against employers for wrongful asbestos exposure. With Maine’s statute of limitations, Mainers have six years to file a lawsuit after a mesothelioma diagnosis. Family members have only two years to file a wrongful death lawsuit.
Employers whose workers may be at risk of asbestos exposure must comply with Occupational Safety & Health Administration protocols. The Maine Department of Labor also sets out regulations for working with and around asbestos.
Retaining a Maine Mesothelioma Lawyer
Employers facing mesothelioma lawsuits usually have deep pockets to finance big legal defense teams. Therefore, it is vital to contact an accredited mesothelioma lawyer who has the expertise to build a strong case and negotiate the settlement you deserve.
If you developed mesothelioma as a result of asbestos exposure in Maine, contact our Justice Support Team today.