This week, Martha Coakley, Massachusetts Attorney General, declared a $125,000 settlement in an asbestos lawsuit in which a demolition company was accused of inappropriately handling asbestos during the annihilation of a building in Worcester.
According to court reports, the complaint against McConnell Enterprises, a land clearing and demolition company headquartered in Braintree, was filed last Thursday, February 6. The complaint states that the company unveiled piping that was littered with asbestos while undergoing a demolition project in 2011. Instead of properly removing the hazardous materials, they left the pipes hanging. As the pipes were left hanging three stories above ground, numerous workers were placed at high-risk for asbestos exposure for a prolonged period of time.
As a result, Coakley took action:
“Our office takes the mishandling of asbestos very seriously because of the health effects. Companies working with asbestos-containing materials must be held to the highest standards of care as ordered under our state air laws and regulations,” Coakley said.
The asbestos lawsuit also states that when the company finally removed the asbestos-riddled pipes, they didn’t handle it correctly, nor did they store it correctly. In fact, they left it in unmarked bags, then dropped the bags in a building closeby. Proper handling, labeling, storing, and disposing of hazardous materials is outlined and mandated by the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (DEP).
In addition, the company didn’t notify the DEP when they began to dispose of the asbestos, which made it impossible for officials to oversee the project to ensure everything was done correctly. According to MassDEP commissioner, Kenneth Kimmell, failing to notify officials is a direct violation in Massachusetts.
“Licensed asbestos contractors are fully aware of the removal, handling, packaging and storage requirements that must be followed when dealing with asbestos-containing materials and of the requirement to provide notification to MassDEP in advance of this work. Asbestos is a known carcinogen, and following the rules is imperative to protect workers as well as the general public and environment. Failure to do so will result in significant penalty exposure, as well as escalated cleanup, decontamination and monitoring costs,” Kimmell said in a public statement.
McDonnell Enterprises is licensed by the state as an asbestos removal contractor, and had to undergo training beforehand to ensure that they understood the properly asbestos abatement procedures. Yet, even with prior training and knowledge, they still failed to handle the situation correctly, putting numerous workers in harm’s way.
The $125,000 settlement fee against McConnell Enterprises includes $82,500 in civil fees that must be paid to the state of Massachusetts. An additional $42,500 will be added in if the company fails to adhere to the Massachusetts waste regulations rules within the next year and a half. The company agreed to the settlement in front of Judge Coakley in the Suffolk County Superior Court.
If you’ve been carelessly exposed to asbestos because of the negligence of another party, you may be entitled to compensatory damages if you’re now suffering medical conditions as a result of the exposure. An experienced asbestos attorney can help you understand your legal rights and what you may be entitled to. Contact our asbestos lawyers today for a free, no-obligation case consultation.