North Dakota Mesothelioma Attorneys and Asbestos Cancer Resources (ND)
North Dakota (ND) Asbestos Information:
While North Dakota lost the fewest victims of any state to asbestos disease between 1980 and 2000 – fewer than five a year – it also has one of the lowest populations of all U.S. states. This population has actually declined over the past quarter century, falling from 653,000 to around 640,000 during that period.
These two facts are in fact related; the primary industry of North Dakota has always been agriculture; asbestos is typically not used extensively in farm-related occupations. The kind of high-skill, industrial jobs in which asbestos is an issue are not abundant in North Dakota, which is why so many young people have been leaving the state in order to seek more lucrative opportunities elsewhere.
Nonetheless, North Dakota has a number of power plants as well as a BP Amoco oil refinery. These two industries are perhaps the most dangerous when it comes to asbestos. The state has also been affected by asbestos contamination that originated from none other than the infamous W.R. Grace and Company mines in Libby, Montana.
Three jobsites at which asbestos was known to be a problem in North Dakota are the Coyote Station, Stanton Powerhouse and United Power.
Asbestos has been valued throughout the Industrial Age for its heat-resistant and fireproof characteristics; with the advent of widespread electrification, engineers discovered that it was an excellent insulator as well. Asbestos fibers were easy to work with, and the substance was inexpensive, requiring little initial investment.
Heat generation and the inherent dangers of electricity were naturally of great concern to the designers of power generation plants; therefore, many of the mechanical components used in these facilities were coated with a form of asbestos. This was usually either asbestos-impregnated cement or a spray-on substance developed and sold by W.R. Grace & Company called Monokote.
Asbestos insulation was used extensively throughout the structures that housed power plants as well in order to manage fire hazards. Boilers, turbines and generators were often insulated with asbestos; the mineral was also used in gaskets used in sealing valves, pumps and pipe fittings. Plant maintenance workers were obliged to cut, trim and file this gasket material in order to fit them properly–and a typical power generation plant often had several miles’ worth of such pipes and conduits.
In fact, there are few places in power plants where workers could totally escape asbestos hazards. Data gathered by the Center for Health Statistics indicate that three percent of the these workers who die of work-related causes are victims of and asbestos cancer such as mesothelioma.
A 2003 study in Puerto Rico bears this out; of the many power plant workers whose chest x-rays were examined, 13% were found to have “abnormalities” that were the precursor to an asbestos disease.
Another key case in the state took place in 1999 before the Supreme Court of North Dakota. In that case, Black v. Abex Corp., Rochelle Black had brought a suit against 48 asbestos manufacturers, alleging that her husband, Markus Black, had died of lung cancer as a result of handling asbestos products manufactured by these defendants. Markus was an Air Force auto mechanic from 1971 to 1986. He died of lung cancer in 1991; Rochelle Black’s suit alleged that his lung cancer was caused by asbestos exposure at his workplace. A court initially dismissed her wrongful death and survival claims, but Black appealed before the Supreme Court of North Dakota. That court concluded that since Black had not asserted that she had included as defendants all possible manufacturers of the asbestos-containing products to which her husband was exposed during his career as a mechanic, alternative liability was inapplicable in the case. The Supreme Court of North Dakota therefore affirmed the lower court’s dismissal of Black’s market share and alternative liability claims.
Those interested in filing a mesothelioma lawsuit should know that the statute of limitations for personal injury law in North Dakota 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, and therefore are encouraged to contact a North Dakota mesothelioma lawyer as soon as possible. Wrongful death cases fall under the same statute of limitations beginning with the date of death and including the standard discovery rule. There is a special provision for asbestos that increases the statute of limitations to three years from the date of discovery.