A shipyard machinist who was recently diagnosed with the rare, asbestos-related cancer mesothelioma has brought suit against his former employer.
David Armistead, of Sandside, Kirkby, UK, alleges that he has contracted mesothelioma as a result of his exposure to asbestos during his work in the machine and engine shops at the Barrow Shipyard, which is owned by BAE Land Systems, a global defense, security and aerospace company. Armistead, 60, claims that he was not given proper protective materials that would have been required in order to work safely with the toxic chemical.
Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral which has been prized in the past for its durability, strength, and extreme resistance to heat and fire when it is combined with other building and manufacturing materials. Shipyards and ships used asbestos widely, as did the construction and automotive industries. It also had a wide range of consumer applications, ranging from attic insulation to ironing board covers.
Asbestos has been phased out of use, however, because of its carcinogenic nature. When its microscopic fibers are released into the air, they can be inhaled or ingested, and then lodged in the soft tissues and organs of the human body. From there they can develop into the rare but aggressive cancer mesothelioma or other diseases, like asbestosis or pleural plaques.
Armistead worked in the engine shop and machine shop at the shipyard, both of which has asbestos-lined roofs and cladding on the walls. Additionally, he worked on a submarine during its construction, and there was exposed to asbestos as it was being applied to the ship.
Armistead, who began his employment at the Barrow Shipyard in 1965, also claims in his lawsuit that he was not warned of the dangers of working with asbestos. He is seeking more than $500,000 in damages from BAE Land Systems.
He was diagnosed with mesothelioma in 2008. Currently, there is no cure for the cancer, although patients can elect to undergo traditional therapies such as chemotherapy, radiation and surgery in order to prolong their lives or provide palliative care.