An Arizona woman has recently filed a lawsuit, seeking compensation for lost wages, loss of consortium and other damages in the death of her husband from the asbestos cancer mesothelioma.
Althea Bussert says that her husband, James Bussert, contracted mesothelioma while on the job. Bussert worked variously as a reliability engineer, teacher, instructor and clerk at several workplaces throughout Arizona and California. Mesothelioma is known primarily as an occupational disease, although it can be contracted on a secondhand basis when the asbestos particulate is carried from the job site to the home on the worker’s clothing or hair.
Asbestos was widely used in manufacturing, milling, shipyards, railyards, automotive plants, construction sites, schools and homes, especially in the years between 1930 and 1980. It was considered invaluable for its insulating and fireproofing properties, resistance to electrical conductivity, strengthening ability and flexibility. Unfortunately, exposure to the microscopic fibers of asbestos can also lead to several devastating diseases, including pleural plaques, asbestosis and the rare cancer known as mesothelioma.
Mesothelioma strikes a thin membrane, called the mesothelium, which forms a protective barrier around the lungs and other areas. The mesothelium produces a special lubricating substance which helps the internal organs to move without producing friction. It is also particularly vulnerable to being penetrated by the asbestos fibers, and once embedded in the mesothelial tissue, these fibers can cause changes at the cellular level. Eventually a diffuse tumor will form across the surface of the mesothelium, a tumor which is extremely difficult to surgically resect and which is also resistant to radiation and chemotherapy. Most patients die within two years of receiving a mesothelioma diagnosis.
During his 40-year career, Bussert may have been exposed to asbestos at any or all of his workplaces. Mesothelioma has a very long latency period, so it is often difficult for patients to pinpoint exactly when they may have been exposed to the asbestos material and when the development of their cancer may have begun.