Recent Mesothelioma News
The Wall Street Journal recently featured a fascinating story about an asbestos victim. Bill McQueen, unlike other mesothelioma patients that we often hear about, was not a shipbuilder or construction worker. He was an Air Force surgeon. Dr. McQueen had sought medical care, when his chest pain persisted. He had thought it was perhaps a flareup of an old rib fracture. However, is doctor ultimately told him that he was suffering from mesothelioma, an incurable and fatal cancer that was encasing his left lung.
Dr. McQueen represents a different type of plaintiff in the asbestos litigation. Rather than targeting one or two defendants, asbestos claims are now involving dozens of corporate defendants. Research based on asbestos filing in Philadelphia reveals that almost 50% of the mesothelioma claims from 2006 through 2010 related plaintiffs’ exposure due to do-it-yourself type of construction or auto mechanic projects. In contrast, those type of plaintiffs were only about 3% of similar claims in the prior decade (1991- 2001).
The mesothelioma was so far advanced for Dr. McQueen, when his wife began to search for an asbestos-injury attorney. In 2011, waking up from a coma, Dr. McQueen found an attorney at his bedside. The process of understanding how Dr. McQueen was exposed to asbestos began with digging through photos of an old family farm. Some of those photos showed rusty paint cans, cement bags, and insulation, all of which Dr. McQueen had worked with decades before. As a result, Dr. McQueen and his wife named over two dozen corporate defendants.
What is also interesting to see from this WSJ article is the comments. Some found the McQueens’ search for justice “disgusting,” while others viewed the claim as a sort of fishing expedition. A scant few seemed to recognize that this was the family’s attempt to hold negligent companies accountable.
Dr. McQueen passed away in his home this past March. Trial is set for this November, while several defendants have settled with the family already.
Patients who believe that they may have mesothelioma may now have a new way of confirming their hunch via a blood test. US News & World Reports article earlier this month reported on the blood test, along with a lung fluid test. The lung fluid test looks for a protein in plasma called fibulin-3 that indicates whether a person has mesothelioma, often triggered by asbestos exposure.
The article quotes study author, Dr. Harvey Pass, a professor of thoracic oncology at NYU Langone Medical Center in New York City: “In the mesothelioma patients, fibulin-3 was four to five times higher than in asbestos-exposed individuals,”
Results of the study appear in the Oct. 11 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.
This cancer originates in the lining of the heart, abdomen, chest, and lungs. Mesothelioma is a disease prevalent among individuals who have worked with asbestos or in locations where exposure to asbestos was likely. Smoking increases the risk of mesothelioma.
The deadly material has been used in manufacturing heat resistant materials, often used for construction/plumbing projects. Asbestos has also been used in automotive/truck parts–most notably the brake components, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
Dr. Pass recognized that mesothelioma could take years, if not decades, to developer after asbestos exposure. Often, once diagnosed, mesothelioma patients would face grave prognoses of 1 year or less for survival. Symptoms are coughing, chest pain, and shortness of breath.
An earlier detection by use of a “biomarker” may allow for more effective treatment of mesothelioma.
When James Lovelace was 10 years old, he loved to help his father, a big-rig truck driver, service his trucks. This included handling brake components that contained asbestos. Now 66 years old, Mr. Lovelace is a victim of the malignant cancer, mesothelioma.
The brake parts manufacturer, Pneumo Abex, said to the jury, that Lovelace was exposed to asbestos in a lot of other ways besides working with Abex brake parts. In other words, Defendant Abex’s claimed that it wasn’t the manufacturer’s fault that Lovelace suffered from mesothelioma. Rather, it pointed to the general exposure to the deadly material in his house. Through his childhood, Lovelace breathed and touched items that carried asbestos dust from his father’s workplace as a forklift operator at Johns Manville asbestos cement pipe plant in Stockton, CA.
After a three week trial, the jury did not buy much of Abex’s arguments. It turned around and awarded Mr. Lovelace $1 million for future noneconomic damages, $500,000 for past noneconomic damages; $430,000 for future economic damages; and $144,000 for past economic damages.
The SKWC asbestos injury attorneys congratulate Mr. Lovelace and his team of trial lawyers for this important victory.
Diagnosed with mesothelioma a little more than 2 years ago, Patrick Burke at 55 had doctorstell him that he has a 10% chance to live 3 years. While he doesn’t know if he’ll survive to see the 2012 presidential election results, he won’t let the deadly disease stop him from campaigning for his candidate of choice, Rick Perry. According to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Burke devoted the past week in support of Perry in Iowa.
From Texas, Burke is a former Air Force veteran. To campaign for Perry was something on Burke’s “bucket list.”
When interviewed by the Telegram, Burke explained that he thought that all citizens had a duty to get involved in the political process, “I tell everybody to put down their beer and stop watching The Simpsons.’
Sadly, about 33% of mesothelioma patients are veterans who were exposed to asbestos while in service. Then, after they left the Air Force, they frequently took jobs that further exposed them to asbestos. This extended exposure inevitably led to countless diagnoses of mesothelioma.
The Sun Newspaper in the UK reports a woman died from inhaling deadly asbestos dust after years of washing her husband’s work clothes. An inquest as to the cause of death heard she shook out her carpenter Dennis’s overalls before washing — freeing particles of the deadly material asbestos. The local coroner recorded a verdict of death from an industrial disease.
She contracted the asbestos-related disease mesothelioma last June and died last month. Her husband is also ill and receiving medical treatment.
Medical News Today recently reported the FDA has approved a new drug used to treat malignant pleural mesothelioma, a rare cancer usually associated with asbestos exposure. The drug is called Alimta, or pemetrexed disodium, and it’s distributed by Eli Lilly and Company. Alimta is intended to be used along with cisplatin.
It’s further reported in a randomized clinical trial, patients receiving Alimta along with cisplatin lived an average of 12 months after the trial began, compared with nine months for those on cisplatin alone.