Articles Posted in asbestos and mesothelioma

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Ladders for siding work

Most lawsuits settle out of court. There are many reasons for this, but one of the main incentives for a settlement is so that the parties can put the matter behind them and move on with their lives. It’s no secret that jury trials can lead to appeals and that appeals can delay a resolution to the issues for months or maybe even years.

In the case of Coba v. Tricam Industries, Inc., the state’s highest court was called upon to determine whether a trial court and an intermediate appellate court had properly addressed a jury’s allegedly inconsistent verdict in a product liability lawsuit brought by the personal representative of a man who fell to his death from a 13-foot aluminum ladder. The woman’s complaint against the defendants, the manufacturer and seller of the ladder, alleged both strict product liability and negligence.

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A news article caught my eye as a Coral Springs car wreck lawyer recently because it featured a celebrity resident of South Florida caught driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol. David Cassidy, a former teen idol who appeared on the 1970s-era television show “The Partridge Family,” was arrested Nov. 3 for driving under the influence of both alcohol and hydrocodone, a powerful prescription opiate painkiller sold most commonly as Vicodin. Cassidy lives in Fort Lauderdale, but was pulled over in St. Lucie County on the Florida Turnpike after an officer noticed erratic driving. Cassidy tried but failed to complete field sobriety tests to the officer’s satisfaction, which was captured on a video released Nov. 29. The South Florida Sun-Sentinel said Cassidy has pleaded not guilty to DUI, failing to stay in his lane and an open container violation.

According to information released by the local prosecutor’s office, Cassidy was pulled over after an FHP trooper noticed him weaving around the road and nearly causing a crash. The trooper tried to take Cassidy through field sobriety tests, but Cassidy apparently had trouble following directions and kept interrupting. However, the video shows him apologizing and trying to cooperate, saying he does not believe he is impaired and offering to run through the tests a second time. Instead, he was arrested, and blood tests later registered blood-alcohol concentrations of 0.139 and 0.141, both above the 0.08 legal limit. Cassidy said he’d taken legally prescribed hydrocodone and had a glass of wine at lunch, but troopers also found a half-empty bottle of bourbon in the car. He was scheduled to appear in court again Nov. 30.

As a Wellington auto accident attorney, I was particularly interested in this case because it might raise drivers’ awareness of the dangers of driving on prescription drugs. Many drivers are surprised to find out that even when a drug was legally prescribed for a legitimate medical need, that doesn’t mean it’s legal to take it before driving. Florida law lists some of these drugs in detail, but in general, the prohibited drugs are the ones that could affect drivers’ ability to drive safely, including sleep aids, strong painkillers, sedatives and anti-anxiety medications. Vicodin, the drug Cassidy had apparently been using, has the further problem of increasing the effects of alcohol. This can make patients drunker than they expect from even small amounts of alcohol. But this should be very well marked on the drug’s label, giving Cassidy little excuse to be surprised by it.

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A jury has awarded $995,600 to a Lynn Haven woman suing over her husband’s death, the Panama City News-Herald reported April 29. Betty McBride was continuing the lawsuit filed by her and her husband, Woodrow McBride, against former employers and parts manufacturers they believe exposed him to asbestos. As a result, they argued, Woodrow McBride developed mesothelioma, an aggressive cancer of the internal tissues. He died in September of 2006, a month after the lawsuit was filed.

Woodrow McBride had worked at two power plants in the Panhandle between 1968 and 1996. During that time, the McBrides’ lawsuit charged, he was exposed to asbestos, a known carcinogen, though the installation and maintenance of Foster Wheeler brand boilers insulated with the substance. In the suit, the McBrides named Foster Wheeler and fifteen other companies they believed had contributed to the asbestos exposure. In its decision, the jury found that products from Foster Wheeler and a company not part of the lawsuit, Gulf Power, made products that caused the illness. It apportioned 25% of the blame to Foster Wheeler, 60% to Gulf Power and 1% to each of the remaining defendants. Because Gulf Power was never part of the claim, it does not have to pay its share of the damages.

Asbestos exposure is a common subject of lawsuits because it is the only known risk factor for mesothelioma, a rare but deadly cancer of the tissues lining the chest. Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral that was once widely used in industry; it is composed of tiny fibers that human beings can inhale but not exhale. Once the fibers are inside the victim’s body, they get stuck in the lungs and are eventually absorbed by the body, resulting in cancer anytime from 10 to 60 years later. Because this cancer is frequently detected late, and because its location near vital body organs makes surgery difficult, the prognosis for most victims is grim. Though some patients live with the disease for years, most, like Woodrow McBride, die within 18 months of diagnosis.

History shows that scientists understood the dangers of asbestos for decades before it was removed from most U.S. workplaces. However, employers in multiple industries continued to expose workers to the material without warning or protection throughout the 20th century, which is why most mesothelioma sufferers are older men, often retired. Many of those patients and their loved ones are now striking back with South Florida mesothelioma lawsuits. A lawsuit cannot reverse mesothelioma, unfortunately, but it can help victims pay for the medical care they need, provide for their loved ones and hold the companies responsible for the asbestos exposure legally liable for their actions.

Cohn, Smith & Cohn is proud to represent mesothelioma victims throughout the state of Florida. Our Hialeah asbestos exposure lawyers can help patients and their families win compensation for a serious illness or a wrongful death caused by the carelessness of former employers and their suppliers, sometimes including the U.S. military. Unfortunately, time is of the essence in mesothelioma claims — in addition to concerns related to the illness, it can take time to trace back all of the sources of the asbestos exposure. That’s why experts recommend that you contact a Miramar mesothelioma attorney as soon as you begin considering a legal claim.

If mesothelioma has struck you or someone you love, you can learn more about your legal options at a free, confidential consultation with Cohn, Smith & Cohn. To arrange one, please contact us online or call our main office in Pembroke Pines at (954) 431-8100 today.

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