Niagara Falls, NY—A former boilermaker who was diagnosed with the rare asbestos cancer mesothelioma in 2008 has reached a multi-million dollar settlement with several companies. Earl W. Tredinnick III worked as a boilermaker from 1967 to 2002, at sites which included Niagara Mohawk’s Huntley and Dunkirk steam stations, Hooker Chemical, Ashland Oil, Bethlehem Steel and DuPont. While on the job, he alleges, he inhaled asbestos fibers which led to the development of his mesothelioma. Asbestos was once widely used in manufacturing and construction industries because of its remarkable ability to withstand high heat, fire, electrical conductivity and other chemical and biological processes, as well as it strength and durability. It was frequently used as insulation, and boiler systems in the mid-20th Century would have had extensive asbestos insulation. Unfortunately, asbestos is also a carcinogen. When materials containing asbestos are damaged or disturbed, they can release the microscopic asbestos fibers into the surrounding air. After being inhaled or ingested, these fibers lodge themselves in the mesothelium, a soft tissue which surrounds the lungs and other internal organs.
Over time, they aggravate the surrounding cells, causing them to multiply erratically and become malignant. Mesothelioma can remain asymptomatic for years, or even decades, which means that it’s often not diagnosed until it has reached the later stages. Patients with mesothelioma typically have a very short life expectancy, and there is no cure for the disease. Tredinnick, 61, reached a settlement of $3 million with the defendant companies after the jury in his lawsuit was selected, but prior to opening statements. The names of the settling parties, and the amount of money paid by each, were withheld under the settlement’s terms. It’s estimated that between 2,000 and 3,000 people in the United States are newly diagnosed with mesothelioma each year. Because of the cancer’s long latency period, these numbers are expected to peak in 2010.