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Massachusetts Firms Settle Allegations of Improper Asbestos Removal

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Oxford, MAA compelling aspect of any asbestosis lawsuit or issue concerning the health risks of asbestos are the hazards associated with the removal of asbestos. Those hazards affect not only workers tasked with removal of the known carcinogen, but also members of the general public and passersby who may inadvertently be exposed to free-floating asbestos fibers without knowing it.

To that end, a settlement has been announced in a dispute involving Patriots Environmental of Oxford, in Massachusetts, a demolition company alleged to have improperly handled material containing asbestos during two demolition projects.

According to a report in the Telegram & Gazette (4/2/16), Patriots Environmental was involved in the removal of asbestos shingles from the exterior walls of a single-family home in Sturbridge, Massachusetts, in July 2013. The defendant involved workers from another firm, Demo Realty, in the removal of the shingles. The Attorney General’s office for the State of Massachusetts charged in a lawsuit brought in 2014 that workers involved in the removal allowed the shingles to break apart, with debris containing asbestos allowed to drop onto unprotected ground below or into unsealed plastic bags, which exposed the asbestos fibers to the air.

Environmental protocol requires a contractor to wet, cover or seal asbestos-laden material in containers, thereby preventing the possibility that asbestos fibers could float freely through the air, potentially impacting workers, or even passersby.

Ingestion of even minute particles of asbestos could lead to asbestosis disease or mesothelioma years, even decades, after the fact. Asbestos mesothelioma is usually fatal.

The original asbestosis lawsuit was brought in July 2014 in Suffolk Superior Court, but was amended a year later to include allegations that those who owned Patriots Environmental were operating in association with three other owned companies: Demo Realty, CRB Demolition Corp. based in Charlton, and Patriots Realty LLC headquartered in Worcester.

The lawsuit was amended in July 2015 to include the other companies due to the shared ownership, finances, employees and other factors common to all four operations. The settlement is worth a modest $129,000.

Amongst the allegations, is a failure to pay $54,714 in penalties for prior asbestos violations on the part of one of the four companies.

In an unrelated story that nonetheless carries a common issue, the Coliseum at West Virginia University in Morgantown was closed late last month after workers performing renovations on the 46-year-old building stumbled upon some material that contained asbestos.

According to a report in the Charleston Gazette-Mail (4/30/16), the material, found above the ceiling in an area containing washrooms, was considered to be not unsafe provided the material remained undisturbed.

Once asbestos became widely known for its association with asbestosis disease, mesothelioma and asbestos cancer, the feeling was that all asbestos needed to be removed from old buildings. That thinking, however, has changed over time to a position where asbestos out of harm’s way and not likely to be disturbed would not be considered a hazard. Only when an older building requires renovation would asbestos require removal.

In this context, as any asbestosis attorney would attest, removal of asbestos has to be carried out safely and in concert with modern environmental hazard protocols to prevent the spread of potentially lethal asbestos fibers that could negatively impact renovation workers and the general public.

Many plaintiffs filing an asbestosis claim, or having been diagnosed with mesothelioma, do not live to see the conclusion of their asbestosis compensation lawsuit…

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