History of Heavy Smoking May Be No Bar to Asbestos Lung-Cancer Victims Receiving Compensation, Newest Settlement Shows – Weitz & Luxenberg

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Weitz & Luxenberg has arranged for nine New York lung-cancer victims who were heavy smokers to be paid a substantial sum in settlement of claims that asbestos exposure was a factor in developing the disease and that it couldn't be blamed on cigarettes alone. The settlement helps put to rest a common misconception that smokers are automatically disqualified from suing those responsible for harms from asbestos exposure.

Smoker, non-smoker. It doesn’t matter. A favorable outcome for the plaintiff can be achieved.

Nine smokers who developed lung cancer will be paid a substantial sum to settle claims that their disease was caused at least in part by workplace exposure to the toxic mineral asbestos and not solely because of cigarettes, the mass-torts and personal-injury litigation law firm Weitz & Luxenberg, PC, today announced (docket No. 1081362002, New York Supreme Court, Manhattan).

“A common misconception is that, if you smoked and then develop lung cancer, you’re automatically disqualified from suing anyone who exposed you to asbestos. Well, that’s simply not true,” said Weitz & Luxenberg attorney Dana Northcraft, Esq., who co-represented the nine plaintiffs, all but one deceased.

“This settlement demonstrates that it is entirely possible for plaintiffs who were smokers – even if they smoked heavily – to sue and be compensated for asbestos-exposure injury,” she explained.

Added attorney Samuel Meirowitz, Esq., also of Weitz & Luxenberg, “The message of this settlement is that asbestos-exposure victims who are or were smokers should be confident about coming forward to seek justice. The science shows asbestos exposure can cause lung disease. Smoker, non-smoker. It doesn’t matter. A favorable outcome for the plaintiff can be achieved.”

The defendants, according to court records, were corporations – seven in all – involved in the manufacture and sale of asbestos products. Case filings indicate that most of them quickly settled, but a lone holdout kept the likelihood of a full-blown trial alive until late February when it finally agreed to an out-of-court deal.

Northcraft declined to disclose the settlement amount, but nonetheless characterized it as “a substantial sum.” Since eight of the plaintiffs by that point had passed away, the money due them will be paid instead to their estates, she clarified.

Asbestos is a mineral that earlier in American history found wide application in consumer, industrial and military wares, Meirowitz explained. Unfortunately, tiny fibers released into the air from those products can be breathed in; once inhaled, the fibers permanently lodge in the lungs, he noted.

“However, it can take decades before the harm from exposure to those fibers surfaces,” Meirowitz said.

Six of the plaintiffs came into contact with asbestos in the course of military service, Northcraft said. “They were in the Navy and served aboard warships during the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s – the same decades when it was hardest for sailors to avoid asbestos exposure,” she offered. “For the most part, our plaintiffs were assigned to duty stations below decks. The boiler and engine rooms, for example, were locations where asbestos was extensively used. Some of the asbestos exposures occurred while the ships were at sea, others while they were in stateside shipyards for repairs or retrofitting.”

The remaining plaintiffs had their encounters with asbestos while working in civilian jobs, she noted. “One was an elevator construction worker on the World Trade Center towers, another was an iron worker at New York power-generation facilities, while the third was an operating engineer at a petroleum plant,” Northcraft said.


About Weitz & Luxenberg:

Founded in 1986 by attorneys Perry Weitz and Arthur Luxenberg, Weitz & Luxenberg, P.C., today ranks among the nation’s leading law firms. Weitz & Luxenberg has secured more than $6.5 billion in verdicts and settlements for its clients. The firm's numerous practice areas include: asbestos and mesothelioma, defective medicines and devices, environmental pollutants, accidents, personal injury, and medical malpractice. Victims of accidents are invited to rely on Weitz & Luxenberg’s more than 25 years of handling such cases – begin by contacting the firm’s Client Relations department at 1-800-476-6070 or at clientrelations@weitzlux.com and ask for a free legal consultation. More information: http://www.weitzlux.com

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Dave Kufeld
Weitz & Luxenberg P.C.
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