Nestled in the wild Pacific Northwest, Oregon boasts hundreds of miles of coastline, abundant forests and rich mineral deposits. It’s only natural that Oregon’s shipbuilding, milling and mining operations succeeded during the 20th century. But the Beaver State is facing a troublesome asbestos problem, as employees and their families were exposed to the harmful fibers that develop into disease later in life.
Mesothelioma Cases in Oregon
Between 1999 and 2013, over 3,700 Oregonians died from asbestos-related diseases. Its death rate of 6.7 per 100,000 citizens ranks high above the national average of 4.9. The coastal and south-eastern counties experience the most cases.
In a monumental lawsuit, a Portland jury awarded former carpenter David Hoff $8.5 million for wrongful asbestos exposure at construction sites. Hoff had used a spackle compound that contained asbestos, and the jury deemed its manufacturer Kaiser Gypsum at fault.
However, the Oregon legal system makes it difficult for some victims to receive the entire sum of damages awarded. If a claim goes to a verdict and a judgment is entered, the state is allowed to take 70% of punitive damages.
Asbestos Use in Oregon
Asbestos was a popular material in the 1900s and used for a broad range of commercial and industrial purposes. Its heat-resistant and anti-corrosive nature made it ideal for insulation, machinery, automobile parts and protective gear for workers. Household items like coffee pots and curling irons also contained asbestos.
Shipbuilding was a booming industry in Oregon during the 20th century. Merchant vessel and pleasure craft production gave way to military efforts during WWII when emergency shipbuilders were launched up and down the coast. Asbestos was used to insulate walls, floors, and ceilings, pipe coverings, gaskets and in the boiler room. Workers who helped build, repair, or decommission ships, and those who spent time on board in other capacities, may have been exposed to asbestos.
Lumber and Paper Mills
Oregon’s timber industry was an integral part of its economy during the 20th century. Sawmills and paper mills were established early in the 1900s and employed thousands of workers around the state. Asbestos was used in parts for saws and slicing machines, in packing equipment and in the buildings themselves. It was also used in parts for logging trucks and tractors like clutches and brake linings.
Asbestos Mining and Processing
Several asbestos mines operated in Oregon during the 20th century. Mining was one of the most dangerous professions for asbestos exposure. Lacking protective equipment, workers had no choice but to inhale or ingest asbestos fibers when they became airborne during mining, shipping and processing. Coast Asbestos Company and L.E.J. Asbestos Mine are two examples of asbestos mining operations.
Other high-risk occupations for asbestos exposure and developing mesothelioma in Oregon include:
- Military veterans
- Pipefitters and plumbers
- Boiler room workers
- First responders
- Construction/demolition crews
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:
- Power stations
- Chemical plants
- Asbestos mines and processing centers
- Military bases
- Old buildings that underwent major renovation
Oregon Asbestos Laws and Regulations
Oregon’s Department of Environment Quality oversees asbestos regulations for homeowners, contractors and business operators. Abatement contractors must be certified to handle asbestos, and any asbestos removed from buildings must be transported to an approved waste facility.
Oregon residents must be aware of the statute of limitations surrounding claims for wrongful asbestos exposure. Mesothelioma patients have 2 years from the date of diagnosis. If filing a wrongful death claim, direct family members have 3 years from the date of death.
Retaining an Oregon Mesothelioma Lawyer
Oregon’s strict legal parameters make it difficult for victims to file a wrongful asbestos exposure claim and to receive the damages in full. An experienced mesothelioma lawyer has the skills and experience to navigate the legal system and negotiate the settlement you deserve in as little time as possible.
If you developed mesothelioma as a result of asbestos exposure in Oregon, contact our Justice Support Team today.