While working at the Kensington Heights housing project in Buffalo, employees were told by their boss, Ernest Johnson, to dump asbestos into the the holes in the flooring. They did, putting several lives at risk, including their own. After a plea deal, Johnson admitted to bungling the asbestos work in the East Side complex of Kensington Heights, placing a host of people in danger.
According to court documents, Ernest Johnson, owner of Johnson Contracting of Western New York, decided to cut corners during his contract work project at the Kensington Heights buildings, where he was hired to abate asbestos. Yet, instead of properly removing the asbestos, the employees not only dumped the dangerous minerals into cut holes in the flooring, but also failed to adequately treat asbestos that was left in air-tight containers at the job site.
Consequently, Johnson and his company have been accused of planning and carrying out a dangerous scheme in order to save money while working on the project. The project went on for five years before Johnson and his employees were caught. It was part of a cleanup effort on a series of vacant buildings in the Kensington Heights. However, although no one currently lived in the buildings, the risk of asbestos inhalation and ingestion can easily spread throughout the community.
In court this Wednesday, Johnson admitted guilt in violating the federal Clean Air Act. His admission was part of a plea deal arranged by his attorney, that states he may be able to receive leniency during his sentencing. Johnson is the first contractor to admit guilt in the asbestos cover up. Previously, the only other people who admitted to their part have been compliance monitors who were sent to Kensington Heights to inspect Johnson’s work and to ensure he was following mandated laws. However, a few of the monitors from JMD Environmental Inc. of Grand Island failed to report the findings of hidden and mismanaged asbestos. In fact, they admitted to falsifying the reports and claiming that asbestos was being cleaned and abated correctly when it wasn’t.
Both companies, JMD and Johnson Contracting, closed down in 2011 after they faced 23 charges, indicted by the grand jury. Although those charges have been dismissed, both companies still face charges from the government. Even with a plea arrangement, Johnson may face up to 30 years in prison and a myriad of asbestos lawsuits should victims who were exposed because of his negligence file against him.
Keep in mind that if you or a loved one have been exposed to asbestos due to the careless and negligent acts of another party, you may be entitled to compensatory damages. You’ll need an experienced mesothelioma lawyer by your side to ensure your legal rights are being met. For more information and for a free, no-obligation consultation, contact our leading mesothelioma law firm today.