While mesothelioma is rare among the general population, it is not rare among those who served on ships in the Navy and the U.S. Merchant Marine. The most significant exposure to asbestos occurred in the engine and fire rooms of ships. When ships were in drydock or at port, exposure to asbestos was especially substantial. While docked, even yardbirds (civilian shipyard workers) were exposed to massive doses of asbestos. Because asbestos exposure causes diseases of latency—it takes anywhere from 15–60 years for mesothelioma (and lung cancer) to develop—many servicemen are just now being diagnosed with mesothelioma.
Asbestos was used extensively both on the inside and outside of machinery on the ships. It covered the pipes, the pumps, the valves, the boilers, the turbines, the evaporators and a large percentage of the auxiliary machinery. The pumps, valves, soot blowers, boilers, motors, condensers and compressors had internal parts containing asbestos, including packing, gaskets, cement and block.
Many ratings worked directly with asbestos, including steamfitters, pipefitters, insulators, boilermakers, laborers, machinists, seaman, firemen and electricians. Virtually every other seaman was exposed to asbestos while working in the vicinity of other trades. Because asbestos is invisible and nearly indestructible, the hazards from the installation, maintenance and repair of Navy equipment subjected our servicemen to chronic and acute levels of exposure.
The manufacturers of the equipment that was installed on Navy ships knew or should have known about the dangers of asbestos long before this equipment was ever installed. Yet they failed to warn Navy workers of the hazards. The result of this tragic chapter in American corporate history is that thousands of Navy men have needlessly developed mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases. For these heroic Americans, mesothelioma is an especially cruel and horrible diagnosis. To survive the war—only to be felled by asbestos many years later—is a tragedy that has befallen too many of our veterans.
Fortunately, there are some remedies for individuals who have been diagnosed with mesothelioma. Although some of the corporations that manufactured and sold the asbestos-containing equipment are now bankrupt, many remain solvent. The attorneys at Belluck & Fox can help mesothelioma and lung cancer victims file lawsuits against the solvent companies and file administrative claims against many of the bankrupt entities. Regrettably, bringing these claims will not change your diagnosis of mesothelioma. It will, however, bring to you and your family some sense of justice against the corporations that recklessly caused this to happen, and also provide you and your family with compensation for medical bills. We can also provide information on mesothelioma treatment centers.
If you are interested in speaking with an attorney to discuss your situation and to learn more about your options for bringing claims, please contact Belluck & Fox today. We cannot and do not sue the Navy. We do, however, secure your Navy records which can assist in determining your sailing history and asbestos exposures. The attorneys at Belluck & Fox have been representing Navy veterans for as long as seventeen years. We have prosecuted claims for seaman, firemen, laborers, machinist mates, boilermakers, pipecoverers, electricians and others. Our clients have sailed on destroyers, carriers, battleships, repair ships, subs, cruisers and escorts. We understand everything you are going through and will fight for you in every way we can.
Many states limit the time in which a legal claim can be filed. Because of this, it is important to file your claim as quickly as possible.