The widow of a man who died from mesothelioma cancer has filed suit against 23 corporations, accusing them of having contributed to the death.
Ransom Glen Phillips worked for nearly four decades as a contractor, and during that time had been exposed to great quantities of the building and insulating material asbestos. Asbestos used to be prized for its ability to protect against fire and high temperatures, as well as its resistance to electrical conductivity and its tensile strength. Additionally, this mineral material is durable and flexible, and can be woven into fabric or yarn. Although most people are familiar with asbestos as a component of acoustic ceiling tiles or spray-in insulation, it has been incorporated into thousands of commercial and consumer products, many of them used in the building industry.
For this reason, contractors are one of the demographics most at risk for exposure to asbestos, and therefore to the cancer and other diseases that it causes. When asbestos-containing products are damaged, as they would be during manufacture, installation, renovation or removal, they can release microscopic—and toxic—fibers into the environment. Anyone who breathes in those fibers will put themselves at risk, albeit inadvertently, for developing an asbestos-related disease down the line. These fibers can not be expelled from the body but, rather, will embed themselves in the body’s soft tissues, particularly the mesothelium, a membranous lining of the lungs and chest cavity.
From there they develop into mesothelioma, a cancer which usually is inoperable and resistant to other forms of treatment. Most patients die relatively quickly after being diagnosed with this disease, within six to 18 months. Mesothelioma is a particularly devastating disease which leaves its victims gasping for breath.
Phillips retired in 1985. He was diagnosed over twenty years later with mesothelioma, and died in August 2008. The lawsuit brought by his widow accuses 23 companies of negligently providing an unsafe work environment. She is seeking unspecified damages.