Former Kansas City government employees settled an asbestos lawsuit for $80 million against Jackson County, Missouri, and Kansas City-based U.S. Engineering, just one month before the trial was scheduled to start.
The Kansas City Star reports that the lawsuit was filed by over 7,000 peopled who’d been in the Kansas City courthouse, including jail inmates, lawyers, jurors, and more. The $80 million will ensure that the plaintiffs have access and means to ongoing medical screenings and evaluations that specifically look for asbestos-related illnesses.
The class-action lawsuit was filed in 2015 by former Kansas City workers, Jeanne Morgan and David Elsea, who wanted nothing more than to receive medical care and screenings for life. They’re both frightened by the possibility that they’re in danger of developing mesothelioma, an aggressive form of cancer that strikes after people have been exposed to asbestos.
Thousands of others who were in the courthouse for at least 80 hours (a qualification to join the lawsuit) followed suit. Anyone who was (and can prove) that they were in the Kansas City courthouse for at least 80 hours, between the years of 1986 and 2007, is eligible for free medical screenings, X-rays, evaluations, and blood screenings for life.
Asbestos in the Courthouse
For two years during the 1980s, U.S. Engineering made a number of renovations to the Jackson County courthouse. They used asbestos-containing materials to complete the project. Asbestos dust and residue literally scattered everywhere during the renovations, even seeping through the vents as workers cut through asbestos-containing pipes.
Further, workers would carry old, asbestos-containing parts and materials down an old elevator to take it to the dumpster, and leave behind toxic asbestos fibers all over the building. Not only did the workers fail to use masks or gloves while working, but there were absolutely no signs placed anywhere that warned others about the dangers.
U.S. Engineering defended itself, stating that regulations were always followed, even when they were shown proof.
“Integrity and safety have always been at the heart of our 123-year-old, family-owned business, and we will not waiver from our commitment to these fundamental values,” CEO of U.S. Engineering Co. Holdings Tyler Nottberg said.
Morgan testified that she’d see particles of asbestos dust all over the places, including paperwork on desks.
“The particles would be … all over the papers. The dust from their boots and their work shoes was on the stairway and in the hallways,” Morgan said.
Morgan’s co-worker, Nancy Lopez, died at age 56 in 2010. Her cause of death: malignant mesothelioma. Her family won $10.4 million during a 2011 settlement with Jackson County and U.S. Engineering. Lopez’s death greatly frightened a number of people who either worked in the courthouse or spent time there.
Air testing performed on the courthouse in 2010 indicated that it’s now safe and asbestos-free.
Help and Resources for Asbestos Victims
If you or a loved one have been diagnosed with mesothelioma, asbestos-related lung cancer, or asbestosis, you may be eligible for substantial compensation. Fill out our form to receive our free Financial Compensation Packet.
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