For decades, Veterans of the United States Navy, and shipyard workers in California, have been able to receive compensation in the legal system for mesothelioma, lung cancer, and other asbestos related diseases, stemming from exposure to asbestos that took place aboard U.S. Navy vessels in shipyards over the course of the 20th century. For example, in California, the Asbestos Legal Center is an example of a law firm that has been assisting plaintiffs gain compensation for mesothelioma. Now, the families of shipyard workers in Malta, claiming discrimination because international mesothelioma victims have been barred from gaining compensation for the same exposures, have filed a class action lawsuit in District Court in New York.
The legal case hinges on whether the Johns Mansville trust, that emerged from bankruptcy in 1988, has been wrongly applying a non-standard compensation designation to international mesothelioma victims, by failing to recognize when a shipyard worker stepped onto a U.S. Navy ship, they were stepping onto sovereign United States soil.
According to the National Cancer Institute, Malignant Mesothelioma is a cancer that forms in the mesothelial lining of the lungs, chest, or abdomen. A major risk factor in the development of mesothelioma is inhaling or swallowing asbestos fibers. Symptoms of mesothelioma include pain focused under a person’s rib, and shortness of breath. In come cases symptom include a person having lost weight without an apparent explanation. People often believe they may be suffering from pneumonia, or another chest condition, as the onset of mesothelioma may include fluid build up around the lungs, causing the person to cough.
Veterans of the military represent one third of the mesothelioma cases diagnosed in the United States every year. Navy sailors and shipyard workers were often exposed to asbestos located in the boiler and mechanical rooms of Navy vessels, asbestos that insulated the piping that ran throughout the vessel, and asbestos that was located in the internal components of machines, engines, and valves onboard.
Disturbing, the risk for developing mesothelioma is not limited to the shipyard worker, but also extends to the asbestos workers family members. Every year the children and spouses of people who worked with asbestos containing materials are diagnosed with mesothelioma caused by the asbestos fibers that were brought into the family home and vehicle on the clothes of worker. The children and spouses of are also entitled to compensation in the current legal system.
The families of the Maltese shipyard workers claim that their deceased loved ones died as a result of the same exposures, that occurred on vessels docked at the HM Dockyards in Malta. The current action follows a 2010 judgment by the U.S. Court of Appeals, in favor of a plaintiff similarly situated to the Maltese Shipyard workers.
The case may have broader implications, beyond the Johns Mansville trust, as there are numerous other Asbestos Personal Injury Settlment trusts that pay billions of dollars each year to victims of mesothelioma, lung cancer, and other asbestos related diseases. If the Court opens the gates to international claimants who have been victimized by the asbestos industry, future Asbestos Personal Injury Settlement Trusts may need to be set up in consideration of a much larger victim pool needing compensation.
The Asbestos Legal Center is now providing free consultations to people suffering from mesothelioma, lung cancer, asbestosis, or other asbestos caused diseases, at 1-800-970-3878.