West Virginia (WV) Asbestos Information:
Charleston, West Virginia’s capital and largest city, is located in Kanawha County in the western part of the state, and perhaps not coincidentally, this is where the majority of asbestos victims died between 1980 and 2000. During this time, the overall population of the state fell by over 140,000 to 1.8 million. Asbestos victims accounted for 594 of those, less than half of whom were mesothelioma patients (asbestosis is far more common).
One hundred sixty – a little over one-quarter – of these were in Kanawha County; 80% of those died of asbestosis. Although far more asbestos victims contract this disease rather than malignant mesothelioma, asbestosis is actually quite treatable (if incurable) when diagnosed in its early stages. Mesothelioma on the other hand is invariably fatal; such patients can expect to live 12 to 18 months once the have received a mesothelioma diagnosis.
West Virginia Industries
Coal mining was long the basis of West Virginia’s fragile economy. This has continued, along with some oil drilling operations that have yet to produce substantial results. Nonetheless, there are two major oil refineries in the state. In addition, there are numerous chemical plants (including DuPont and Union Carbide, two of the worst corporate polluters in the world) and several power plants.
Interestingly, one medical facility – the Morgantown Medical Research Center – has been identified as an asbestos jobsite. This may seem odd unless you understand that prior to 1980, asbestos-containing materials (ACMs) were present in an overwhelming number of building materials. Asbestos lagging was also frequently used to insulate water pipes, HVAC ductwork, boilers and electrical conduits in public buildings.
The history of the industrial age and asbestos use are nearly parallel. The reasons are heat and flame, corrosive chemicals and electrical current–all of which are hazards in any industrial occupation.
The general rule of thumb is that anywhere there is danger of fire or chemical burns or electrocution, asbestos insulation will have been used at some point. Countertops in chemical labs, electrical machinery, electrical cloth, and even protective gear for workers are just a few of the places where asbestos was used.
While some have argued that such asbestos products are fixed in place, the fact is that they do deteriorate as they age, becoming “friable” – meaning that the material is crumbling into dust and releasing millions of asbestos fibers into the air the workers breathe. Various medical studies have concluded that power plants and oil refineries are perhaps some of the most dangerous industrial jobsites when it comes toasbestos exposure.
West Virginia (WV) Job Sites At Risk From Asbestos Exposure:
Over the course of the last century, hundreds of thousands of workers were exposed to asbestos while on the job – and for the most part, they were not warned. Below is a list of Job sites from the state of West Virginia (WV) where workers were potentially and unnecessarily put at risk:
Dow Chemical Plant: WV
West Virginia (WV) Asbestos Cancer & Mesothelioma Treatment Centers
Today, between 25 and 30% of all Americans will get some form of cancer during their lifetimes. There are many reasons for this, including the modern lifestyle and the poisons that have been put into the environment – of which asbestos is a prime example.
The number of clinics and hospitals that specialize in oncology have increased in response to the growing number of patients.
West Virginia (WV) Mesothelioma Lawyer & Legal Resources:
A search through the West Virginia Federal District Court Cases for asbestos-related personal injury product liability lawsuits brings up a list of three lawsuits from 2006 and 2007. One is a petition for removal from asbestos litigation. Another, Choff et al v. Crown Beverage Packaging, Inc. et al, is an occupational safety / health cause of action. The third, Long et al v. E. I. Du Pont De Nemours and Company et al, is a basic litigation case.
West Virginia is ranked 26 in the U.S. for mesothelioma lawsuits. With a mesothelioma mortality rate of 19.59 per million, West Virginia has a crude mortality rank of three in the country.
In West Virginia, there are a number of known asbestos-exposed areas. These include the Beckley Mining Academy, Dupont in Belle and Huntington, Analine Chemical in Mandsville, the Manville Powerhouse, the Morgantown Medical Research Center, the Moundsville Powerhouse, Ergon-West Virginia in Newell, Dupont and Parkersburg Shell Oil Refinery in Parkersburg, Goodyear in Pt. Pleasant, and the St. Mary’s Will Island Powerplant and Will Island Credamine Chemical in Will Island. Charleston has three known asbestos-exposed areas: the WV Chemical Factory, FMC Chemical, and Union Carbide.
Individuals living or working near these areas should be checked regularly for signs of mesothelioma in order to file any lawsuits within the state’s statute of limitations – something those that show these signs should discuss with a West Viginia mesothelioma lawyer about as soon as possible. While many of these sites have been inspected and some have been cleaned up, anyone who worked or lived in these areas before asbestos contamination was reported can still be affected. Also, it is important to keep in mind that these are only known asbestos sites. Other areas in the state may also contain asbestos but may not yet have been reported as such.
There have been a number of important cases in West Virginia. One of these was actually a cigarette case, Walker v. Liggett Group, Inc. In this class action lawsuit before the United States District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia, the court ruled against the certification of a class action settlement, saying that it violated Rule 23 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure because it did not ensure that the diverse groups of plaintiffs were represented fairly and adequately. This decision would affect West Virginia asbestos cases in the future.
Another key asbestos case in West Virginia went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court in 2003, which ruled that a worker’s fear of developing asbestos cancer can be the basis for winning additional damages from his employer. The case stemmed from a ruling which upheld jury verdicts won by six retired railroad workers in West Virginia who suffered asbestosis, which is a non-cancerous scarring of the lungs, from job-related exposure to asbestos. The plaintiffs said they feared that cancer would cause their deaths. Although the railroad’s lawyer objected, the trial judge told jurors they could award damages to workers who developed a reasonable fear of cancer related to a proven, asbestos-related physical injury. The jury awarded from $770,000 to $1.2 million to the plaintiffs without saying how much of the total was based on the plaintiffs’ fears of developing cancer. In previous cases, the high court had ruled that disease-free workers exposed to asbestos should not be awarded damages simply for their fear and emotional distress.
At first, it was assumed that the Supreme Court’s decision to hear the railroad’s appeal in the West Virginia case was good for the defendants. Many powerful interests, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the American Insurance Association, the Coalition for Asbestos Justice and the Bush administration, joined the case on the side of the railroad. They encouraged the court to rule that emotional distress should not form the basis for a damage verdict, even for people whose lungs were scarred by asbestos. However, the court found that allowing people who suffer an actual injury or disease to seek extra compensation for future harm that they genuinely fear was consistent with traditional principles of liability. It ruled that people like the retired railroad workers with asbestosis should be allowed to recover damages for mental anguish resulting from fear of developing cancer.
Those interested in hiring a West Virgina mesothelioma lawyer or filing a lawsuit should know that the statute of limitations for personal injury law in West Virginia is two years with a discovery rule that states that this amount of time begins when the problem (in this case the mesothelioma) either was discovered or should have been discovered. Wrongful death cases follow the same statute of limitations and discovery rule. There is no special statute for asbestos cases in West Virginia.