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Work with Asbestos led to Mesothelioma Cancer in Shipyard Worker

03-24-2010 10:16 AM CET | Politics, Law & Society

Press release from: Weitz & Luxenberg

Weitz & Luxenberg: New York Mesothelioma Law Firm

Weitz & Luxenberg: New York Mesothelioma Law Firm

In a case still pending against other asbestos product manufacturers, Weitz & Luxenberg last month sent a six-figure settlement check to the widow of a Brooklyn Navy Yard shipyard worker who died of mesothelioma cancer five months after being diagnosed with the disease. The check represents the first payment of a series of future payments.

The story he told during depositions opened a window into the dangerous working conditions he and other shipyard workers endured below deck as they worked with asbestos at their jobs.

Before the use of asbestos was regulated, the shipbuilding industry relied heavily on asbestos to fireproof ship interiors, especially during World War II. For decades in shipyards, asbestos was thickly applied in sleeping quarters, boiler rooms, ammunition rooms, galleys and in nearly every space below deck.

Asbestos use in the United States has dramatically decreased since the 1980s as public awareness about its dangers has grown. But ships built before then still pose fatal health risks to shipyard workers who work on them.

Between 1954 and 1964, the shipyard worker was employed full time at New York City’s Brooklyn Navy Yard. “I was a joiner and an insulator,” he testified to lawyers at a deposition hearing five months before he died of mesothelioma cancer.

His job duties involved working below the decks of dry-docked aircraft carriers and replacing deteriorating asbestos insulation materials with new asbestos materials.

He recalled: “I had to cover walls with asbestos panels that came in planks. After we hung the panels, we filled the space between the planks with cement. Then I applied tape from top to bottom in order to seal the joints.” The panels, the cement and even the tape were all made with asbestos When the walls were cut to fit, or later sanded, a lethal asbestos dust cloud emerged.

Even before his work began, the worker was exposed to airborne asbestos fibers by the activities of fellow workers who, he said, “tore off” the old “broken and deteriorated” asbestos panels before he mounted the new ones.

Old asbestos products that are deteriorating are described as “friable,” the most dangerous condition for workers. Microscopic asbestos fibers can dislodge from friable products and become airborne. Inhalation of airborne asbestos fibers is the most common form of asbestos exposure.

The ships he worked on for 10 years at the Brooklyn Navy Yard were primarily aircraft carriers, as he recalled, and included the New Jersey, the Constitution, the Enterprise, the Polaris and the Constellation. None of his employers ever provided him with a respirator that could have protected him from mesothelioma cancer.

This press release was prepared by the law firm of Weitz & Luxenberg. Weitz & Luxenberg is a New York law firm that represents New Yorkers and others who have been diagnosed with asbestos cancers such as lung cancer, pleural mesothelioma, and peritoneal mesothelioma. Shipyard workers and their loved ones can get more information about the risk of on-the-job asbestos exposure at
For general information on the work of Weitz & Luxenberg asbestos attorneys, visit
For a free case review from Weitz & Luxenberg mesothelioma lawyers, visit

Weitz & Luxenberg
700 Broadway 3rd floor
New York, NY 10003

Media contact:
Jason Wentworth
1-800-438-9786 ext. 5645

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