Danger Asbestos Caution Tape

“Wall Street Is Investing In Your Asbestos Poisoning” – Michael Shepard Quoted in Article

Michael Shepard’s insights were featured in the The Lever’s article, “Wall Street Is Investing In Your Asbestos Poisoning”

Down the road, private equity firms may also try to use legal maneuvers like the “Texas two-step” to avoid paying claims — leaving future asbestos victims without any immediate recourse for their medical expenses.

“The companies that exposed people to asbestos are finding ways to evade having to pay for the harms that they have caused down the road,” said Shepard. “Victims moving forward may not have any recourse to pursue for their injuries because of what is taking place now.”

Read the full article.

“Attorney: Phrase in Supreme Court opinion suggests end near for ‘Texas two-step’” – Michael Shepard Quoted in Article

Michael Shepard’s insights were featured in the Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly article, “Attorney: Phrase in Supreme Court opinion suggests end near for ‘Texas two-step’.”

“If you can’t protect the ‘good’ company — the company with all the assets that’s not in bankruptcy — then there’s no purpose in doing the Texas two-step,” Shepard says.

However, if the Supreme Court allows the Sacklers to get relief from future liability by virtue of their contribution to the bankruptcy plan, that would still not be the equivalent of the Supreme Court giving the Texas two-step its blessing, Shepard adds.

“All it means is this issue of a preliminary injunction or a permanent injunction against claims being extended to a non-debtor entity is something that’s permissible, and therefore one aspect of the Texas two-step would be allowed,” he says.

Read the full article (subscription required).

Shepard O’Donnell Partner Michael McCann Named “Rising Star of the Plaintiffs Bar” by The National Law Journal

Shepard O’Donnell, one of the top asbestos personal injury law firms in Massachusetts for over 25 years, announces that Partner Michael McCann has been named a 2024 Elite Trial Lawyers honoree by The National Law Journal in the “Rising Stars of the Plaintiffs Bar” category. The award celebrates the accomplishments of lawyers under 40 who have demonstrated outstanding litigation skills, service to the community and made significant contributions to their firm. McCann and fellow honorees will be recognized at an award ceremony in New York City on July 11.

McCann’s practice focuses on asbestos litigation, tobacco lawsuits and other complex tort litigation matters. His extensive experience includes arguing before the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court and leading the Shepard O’Donnell team in several groundbreaking cases. His exceptional professional acumen led to his promotion to partner in 2019.

“Witnessing Mike’s growth as an attorney and having him a part of our firm has been a privilege. He’s a top-notch litigator and a key partner at Shepard O’Donnell,” said Founder Michael Shepard. “He adeptly manages the complexity of asbestos and toxic tort litigation and is committed to ensuring his clients receive the justice they deserve. I couldn’t think of a more suitable honoree!”

As an active member of the Boston legal community, McCann is a member of the Massachusetts Academy of Trial Attorneys and the American Association for Justice. In addition to his recognition as a “Rising Star of the Plaintiffs Bar,” he has been recognized by Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly as an “Up & Coming Lawyer,” Massachusetts Super Lawyers as a “Rising Star” since 2019 and The Best Lawyers in America as “One to Watch” since 2023. The complete list of finalists and honorees for the 2024 Elite Trial Lawyers awards can be found here.

The National Law Journal reports on breaking news and trends for law firms and legal departments about the evolving federal regulations in a volatile political climate.

Tobacco litigation FAQ blog 2

Frequently Asked Questions About Tobacco Litigation in Massachusetts: Part II

Following up on part one of our frequently asked questions about tobacco litigation in Massachusetts, below are seven additional questions we are commonly asked. 

Q: Is it My Own Fault For Not Quitting?

A: No.

As one executive at tobacco company Brown and Williamson, makers of such brands as Carlton, Lucky Strike and Kool, wrote in 1963: “Nicotine is addictive. We are, then, in the business of selling nicotine, an addictive drug.”

In fact, tobacco companies conducted their own research on just how much nicotine was required to get people addicted without making the cigarettes taste bad. Over the years, they have adjusted the amount of nicotine to have the best chance of initiating and sustaining addiction in smokers. 

Even if you know smoking is bad for you, it can be challenging to stop. Addiction is not a choice. Some people are biologically more susceptible to nicotine addiction than others. While some might be able to stop or cut back, others might experience unbearable withdrawal symptoms, making it impossible to quit.

And how do the companies respond? As one tobacco company insider put it: “isn’t it fortunate for us that cigarettes are a habit they can’t break.”

Q: How Long Do Tobacco Lawsuits Take?

A: They can take years.

As we know, cigarettes are a billion-dollar industry and tobacco companies have a lot at stake. With very deep pockets, Big Tobacco vigorously defends every case brought against it. But, even though it might have taken years, many individuals and their families have successfully sued tobacco companies for their injuries or death. 

Q: What Can I Expect When I File a Tobacco Lawsuit?

A: A comprehensive look at your smoking history.

Because tobacco companies will invariably take your claim to court, you can expect to provide a comprehensive account of your smoking history, including medical records, accounts from friends and family about your smoking habits (including how and when you first started smoking), photos and/or social media posts that show you’ve been a long-time smoker and more. You will also be expected to answer questions from the tobacco company about your smoking history. While all of this may sound daunting, the tobacco lawsuit team at Shepard O’Donnell helps clients pull together all relevant information in preparation for a successful suit.

Q: How Much Can I Expect to Win?

A: $0 or $Millions.

This is a difficult question since every case and fact pattern is different. There are no hard and fast guidelines that allow us (or anybody else) to predict what a jury will decide. There is a very real chance that the award will be negligible. That said, however, the tobacco lawyers at Shepard O’Donnell were recently part of the trial team that won a ground-breaking $43.1 million verdict against RJ Reynolds on behalf of an individual victim. We do not guarantee similar results in future cases, and clients should be aware that even after a lengthy trial, the reward might be zero.

Q: I have COPD or Esophageal Cancer or Heart Disease; Will You Take my Case?

A: Not at this time.

Shepard O’Donnell is currently only taking cases involving lung cancer due to smoking but we are happy to refer you to experienced counsel who can evaluate your case.

Q: What is the Statute of Limitations to File a Tobacco Lawsuit in Massachusetts?

A: Three years (or longer.)

The general statute of limitations for Massachusetts, including for tobacco-related lawsuits, is up to three (3) years from the date your injuries were discovered or from your family member’s death. Even if you think you missed Massachusetts’ statute of limitations, it is still worth speaking with a tobacco lawsuit attorney. We can review the facts of your case to establish which deadline applies to your case and if you still have time or fall under certain statutory exceptions. You can rely on Shepard O’Donnell to consider every legal opportunity.

Q: How Do I Know If I Have a Case?

A: Call the experienced tobacco lawyers at Shepard O’Donnell.

A Massachusetts tobacco lawyer will help you determine which laws apply to your case and how. Shepard O’Donnell will also fully investigate your injuries and help you preserve all admissible, related evidence. Allow an experienced and compassionate tobacco lawsuit attorney on our legal team to evaluate your situation to provide clarity and direction regarding your options. Cigarette and tobacco companies willfully choose to place profits over people. Shepard O’Donnell will stand by your side throughout the entire process while holding these companies accountable for their careless and reckless actions.

Shepard O’Donnell is currently accepting cases for people living with lung cancer due to smoking that took place mainly in Massachusetts.

We have a strong track record of success when representing personal injury and wrongful death victims in matters against tobacco and cigarette companies, including a ground-breaking $43.1 million verdict against RJ Reynolds on behalf of an individual victim.

Shepard O’Donnell Announces Mackenzie Hoglund as an Associate Attorney

Shepard O’Donnell, one of the top asbestos personal injury law firms in Massachusetts for 25 years, announces that Mackenzie T. Hoglund has joined the firm as an associate attorney.  Working closely with the Shepard O’Donnell team, Hoglund will focus on toxic tort litigation, fighting for victims of mesothelioma, asbestos exposure, tobacco, hazardous products, defective medical implants and dangerous medications.

Hoglund earned his J.D. from Roger Williams University School of Law in 2023 and a B.S. from Stonehill College in 2020. He was admitted to the Massachusetts Bar in July of 2023 with a score recognizing him for all UBE Jurisdictions. 

“We are delighted to welcome Mackenzie to the firm,” said Shepard O’Donnell Partner Michael Shepard. “He is eager to advocate for victim’s rights and demonstrates an aptitude for complex litigation. We look forward to working with him on toxic tort cases as we help our clients find justice.”

While in law school, Hoglund worked closely with the Business Start-Up Clinic, where he partnered with start-up companies and entrepreneurs to address a variety of legal concerns. Additionally, he participated in the Pro Bono Collaborative Eviction Help Desk and the USPTO Law School Clinic Certification program.

Frequently Asked Questions About Tobacco Litigation in Massachusetts: Part I

The tobacco industry has knowingly put millions of lives at risk for decades by continuing to actively market cigarettes and smoking, despite being aware of the harmful health effects of inhaling nicotine and other additives into the lungs.

The tobacco lawsuit team at Shepard O’Donnell helps clients with lung cancer due to smoking in Massachusetts obtain justice from tobacco companies for their injuries. We feel strongly about making tobacco companies pay for the grievous harm they have inflicted on individuals and families and are committed to holding them accountable for their actions. Read more about our landmark $43.1 million verdict

Below are some common questions we are asked about tobacco litigation.

Q: Can I Still File a Tobacco Lawsuit in Massachusetts?

A: Yes. 

As it becomes more difficult to file tobacco suits in other states, Massachusetts remains a viable place to bring your tobacco lawsuit. If you or your loved one developed lung cancer or died as a result of smoking in Massachusetts, you may be successful in suing the tobacco company that caused your injuries. Although these cases can be long and complicated, favorable verdicts do happen, even today. 

Q: I Live Outside of Massachusetts; Can I File a Tobacco Case?

A: Maybe.

As Massachusetts tobacco lawyers, Shepard O’Donnell is only accepting cases in which the majority of a victim’s smoking history took place in Massachusetts. If you live in another state but started smoking in Massachusetts and spent a significant amount of time here, please reach out to us for a free case evaluation to see if we can help. 

Q: Is This a Class Action?

A: No. 

The courts have made it more difficult in recent years to file class action suits against Big Tobacco because the class is so big, involving victims nationwide. As a result, tobacco lawsuits are filed on behalf of an individual and/or their family, and each is considered as a separate claim.

Q: Haven’t All Tobacco Cases Been Settled By Now?

A: No. 

Big Tobacco vigorously defends its own interests and does not typically settle lawsuits brought against it. With millions of victims still suffering and dying from lung cancer due to smoking, there are potentially many more suits to be filed. Although the Attorneys General from 52 states and territories signed the Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement in 1998, that agreement does not mean that all cases are settled.

Q: My Loved One Died From Lung Cancer Due to Smoking; Can I File a Suit on His/Her Behalf?

A: Yes. 

Depending on the specific details of the claim, surviving family members may be able to file a lawsuit on behalf of their loved one. It’s best to contact experienced tobacco lawyers to discuss your case so they can advise you on the best course of action. Shepard O’Donnell offers free case evaluations for individuals and families who have been affected by lung cancer due to smoking in Massachusetts.

Q: Don’t Companies Have a Legitimate Defense Because of the Warnings on Packaging?

A: No.

The relatively strong warnings that we see on cigarette packaging today weren’t mandated by the government until 1998, but by then, millions were already addicted. Before that, warnings were vague and ineffectual: The Federal Cigarette Labeling and Advertising Act of 1965 required that the warning “Caution: Cigarette Smoking May Be Hazardous to Your Health” be placed in small print on one of the side panels of each cigarette package. This was not enough to deter people from smoking, or to adequately warn about the health risks known to the tobacco companies but hidden from the public.

Even with these warnings, tobacco companies continued their aggressive – and deceptive – marketing tactics, effectively contradicting their warnings. 

Q: Is it My Own Fault For Starting to Smoke in the First Place?

A: No.

Tobacco companies knew exactly what they were doing when they got millions of people hooked on nicotine. They intentionally marketed to young people and teens, using sexy and fun imagery to convey the idea that smoking was exciting and cool. Think of the Marlboro Man and the cartoon Joe Camel in cigarette ads, or even Sean Connery’s James Bond or Audrey Hepburn on the big screen, looking glamorous through clouds of smoke.

A much more insidious tactic involved handing out free sample packs of cigarettes to children as young as eight years old. Their plan—-a successful one as it turns out—-was to turn these children into addicts and lifelong tobacco consumers.

In a 1953 confidential report for Philip Morris, the researcher writes: “Studies of clinical data tend to confirm the relationship between heavy and prolonged tobacco smoking and incidence of lung cancer.” Did that stop companies from marketing to an impressionable audience? No.

Executives at Big Tobacco knew they had to keep smokers hooked and actively fought back against information that showed smoking was bad for your health. In 1964, after reading the Surgeon General’s Report on the dangers of smoking, internal communications at the highest levels at Philip Morris International revealed a chilling plan: “We must in the near future give smokers a psychological crutch and a self-rationale to continue smoking.” 

According to the industry watchdog, Expose Tobacco, the industry “ran deceptive campaigns, misled policymakers even when under oath, and paid for biased research to help create confusion. The longer the truth was withheld, the more people smoked, unaware of the damage it was causing to their bodies.”

Millions of people have fallen victim to the deceptive marketing practices of tobacco companies and have paid a deadly price.

Q: I Smoked Menthol Cigarettes, Is That Different?

A: No.

Menthol cigarettes were invented and designed by the tobacco industry because research showed they were easier to smoke. Menthol numbs the cough reflex, which allowed even people who were sensitive to regular cigarettes to take up smoking. This is yet another example of how Big Tobacco actively sought to “recruit” more smokers.

Marketing of menthol cigarettes was heavily targeted towards African American teenagers and children since studies showed that 85% of Black smokers preferred menthol cigarettes. According to a 2022 NPR report, “tobacco industries specifically found influencers in Black communities and gave them free samples, to build markets surreptitiously. The companies also sponsored events like the Kool Jazz Festival, that included an ad of Dizzy Gillespie next to a pack of Kools.”

Menthol enhances nicotine’s addictiveness and the flavor makes the cigarettes “easier” to use and because of this, they were acknowledged by the industry as great “starter products.” Menthol cigarettes weren’t banned in Massachusetts until 2020!

These are just a few of the questions that we are asked on a regular basis by victims of lung cancer due to smoking. Stay tuned for Part II of our blog, which will be released shortly. We will answer seven more commonly asked questions about suing tobacco companies for financial compensation.

What is “Loss of Consortium” and Do I Have a Claim?

When a loved one is diagnosed with mesothelioma or lung cancer, you and your family members may have a lot of questions. How did they get this disease? What treatments are available? Will I need to take time off work to help care for them? Another question that may come up is: Can we get financial compensation for their injuries? 

If, after speaking with an experienced mesothelioma attorney, the answer is yes, you might also consider seeking compensation for the suffering you and any dependent family members will potentially have to go through. While the pursuit of financial compensation for mesothelioma and lung cancer victims is certainly the primary injury claim, there is an often overlooked aspect of these lawsuits: the impact on the injured’s family. This is called a loss of consortium claim. 

What is Loss of Consortium?

A devastating medical diagnosis impacts not just the individual diagnosed but the whole family. In close marital relationships, the spouse bears the burden of illness alongside their husband or wife, both during the course of the disease and, even more acutely, following the death of their loved one. 

Loss of consortium refers to the loss of marital benefits that a spouse enjoys throughout marriage and includes not just financial considerations, but all aspects of the person’s personal life: love, companionship, comfort and care, emotional and moral support, sexual relations, social activities, as well as daily tasks, chores and errands. In Massachusetts, the victim’s minor children or disabled adult children, also have a right to a loss of consortium claim. 

In essence, loss of consortium is a claim that seeks compensation for the loss of the richness and fullness of a relationship, whether marital or parent-child and encompasses many things including:

  • Loss of Emotional Connection: When a mesothelioma or lung cancer victim can no longer provide the love and emotional support they once did, family members understandably experience sadness and loneliness at the loss of a meaningful emotional connection. Whether it’s the unconditional love of a spouse or the unfailing moral support and guidance of a parent, the emotional toll of that loss is devastating.
  • Loss of a Life Partner: Marriage is a partnership. You are partners in child-rearing, caring for your home and garden, cooking, cleaning, laundry, planning medical appointments and much more. When one partner becomes too weak to help, the other must shoulder added responsibilities and duties, which can lead to stress and exhaustion. 
  • Loss of Parental Support and Guidance: In Massachusetts, loss of consortium includes the loss of a parent. Parents play an important role in shaping their children’s futures and are often instrumental in providing guidance in education, careers or personal and family life. As a key influence in a child’s life, the loss of a parent can have a significant negative impact on that child’s future.  
  • Loss of Income: If the injured spouse is unable to work, and/or if you need to give up your job to act as a caregiver, this can put a significant strain on a family’s finances, especially as medical bills start piling up. 
  • Loss of Social Connection: As your spouse gets weaker, he or she may be unable to participate in social events. You may be hesitant to engage in social activities alone, which could lead to social isolation and an increased risk of depression. 

What Does a Loss of Consortium Claim Mean for Your Family?

A loss of consortium claim recognizes that it is because of someone else’s negligence (that is, the companies that knowingly put workers in danger from asbestos) that you are now put in a position to cope with your loved one’s illness, shoulder the burden of maintaining a household, and face a life without a spouse or parent. Companies that knowingly exposed their employees to harmful substances such as asbestos should be held accountable for their actions, not only against the victims themselves, but also the family members who suffer alongside them.

Financial compensation for loss of consortium can help families get through the trying times during the course of the illness, particularly if you’ve had to leave your job to care for your spouse. In addition to household and family responsibilities, you might also need to hire extra help around the house or yard, rearrange living spaces to accommodate medical equipment, or order special meal services to support the patient’s treatment and recovery. 

A loss of consortium claim entitles you to recover damages for the entire length of time the injury caused the loss. 

How Can I File a Loss of Consortium Claim?

Each marriage and family is unique; therefore, each loss of consortium case is unique. The foundation of a strong loss of consortium claim is proof of a strong marriage and family bond in which family members enjoy interconnected and mutually supportive lives. An experienced mesothelioma lawyer can help advise what claims are best to pursue based on your specific circumstances.

If you or a family member have been diagnosed with mesothelioma, regardless of whether through direct or secondary exposure to asbestos, you may have a claim. Unfortunately, in addition to direct jobsite exposure, we have seen instances of mesothelioma in wives who routinely did their husband’s asbestos-covered laundry, or in children who hugged dad every day as he came home from work in clothes embedded with asbestos fibers. Call us today to determine your next steps, and we’ll help you navigate the process. At Shepard O’Donnell, we have helped hundreds of individuals and their families get justice for their injuries, regularly obtaining settlements and verdicts in the millions. We are happy to offer you a free case evaluation and will tell you honestly if we think you have a viable claim, including a claim for loss of consortium.

Shepard O’Donnell Partner Michael McCann Named “Up & Coming Lawyer” by Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly

Shepard O’Donnell, one of the top asbestos personal injury law firms in Massachusetts for over 25 years, announces that Partner Michael McCann has been named a 2024 Excellence in the Law honoree by Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly in the “Up & Coming Lawyers” category. The “Up & Coming Lawyers” award celebrates the exceptional professional and community accomplishments of attorneys practicing less than 10 years. McCann and fellow honorees will be recognized at a reception in Boston on March 19. 

McCann’s practice focuses on asbestos litigation, tobacco lawsuits, and other complex tort litigation matters. He has argued in front of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court and served as lead counsel in multiple landmark cases. As a result of McCann’s professional acumen, he was elevated to partner in 2019. 

“It has been an honor to watch Mike grow as an attorney over the decade,” said Founder Michael Shepard. “He manages the complexity of asbestos and toxic tort litigation with adeptness and is committed to obtaining justice for his clients. I am elated to see Mike recognized for his consistent excellence!”

As an active member of the Boston legal community, McCann is a member of the Massachusetts Academy of Trial Attorneys and the American Association for Justice. In addition to his recognition as an “Up & Coming Lawyer,” he has been recognized by Massachusetts Super Lawyers as a “Rising Star” since 2019 and The Best Lawyers in America as “One to Watch” since 2023. The full list of Excellence in the Law honorees can be found here

Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly reports decisions issued by all the state and federal courts in Massachusetts, as well as changes to court rules, verdict and settlement reports, bar-discipline notices, and all other news vital to attorneys in the commonwealth. It also covers hundreds of rulings from state and federal trial courts in Massachusetts.

Mesothelioma Legal Question: How Long Do I Have to File A Mesothelioma Lawsuit?

As another new year begins and we are all thinking about intentions and resolutions for the coming months, we’d like to add a specific and urgent task to your list: contact a lawyer as soon as possible if you or a loved one has been diagnosed with mesothelioma.

Mesothelioma is an aggressive form of cancer that, once diagnosed, often leaves victims and their families little time to put their affairs in order. Despite the fact that the disease has likely been developing for many years, once you learn that mesothelioma is the cause of the cancer, the clock starts running for you to initiate a potential legal claim. 

Nothing can ease the pain of a mesothelioma diagnosis. However, obtaining fair compensation from those responsible for your injuries has the power to ensure your family’s financial security.

The Magic Number: 3 Years (Or More?)

One of Massachusetts’s most frequently asked mesothelioma legal questions is when a lawsuit can be filed. The statute of limitations for personal injury cases in the Commonwealth, including those involving mesothelioma, is three years. This means that you have three years from either 1) the date of your mesothelioma diagnosis, or 2) when you knew or reasonably should have known about the probable link between your diagnosis and prior exposure to asbestos, to file a claim. 

It is important that you contact a lawyer as soon as possible after learning you or a loved one has mesothelioma, even if you think you may be outside of the three-year time limit. In certain circumstances, that time frame may have been tolled, or paused, as was the case with the statute of limitations during the COVID-19 pandemic. Your lawyer can tell you if the deadline in your case can be extended past the typical three-year mark. Be sure to contact an attorney intimately familiar with mesothelioma lawsuits in Massachusetts to get the best possible advice for your specific case. 

We are happy to provide our honest opinion about whether you have a valid mesothelioma legal claim in Massachusetts, free of charge. Don’t worry if you don’t have your medical records or employment details at hand: we’ll help you obtain whatever documentation we need to build a strong case. 

Talk to Your Doctor As Soon As Possible

We recommend talking to your doctor right away if you think you may have been exposed to asbestos at any point during your working years, particularly if you’ve worked in industries such as shipping, plumbing, construction, paper mills and others, or if you are a Veteran. Set up regular monitoring of your lung health, such as annual lung scans or other checks to ensure you spot potential symptoms of mesothelioma as early as possible. We urge you not to ignore the warning signs of mesothelioma which include: 

  • Shortness of breath
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Chest pains
  • Coughing blood
  • Loss of appetite
  • Sweating (profusely)
  • Weight loss

Talk to your doctor right away if you experience any of these symptoms and be sure to let them know about your past asbestos exposure.

Remember: the earlier the diagnosis, the more treatment options may be available to you or your loved one, and the greater the likelihood of recovery.

If you do experience any of these symptoms, or have been recently diagnosed with mesothelioma, we also encourage you to talk to your family about your work history to begin putting the puzzle pieces together about when, where and how you may have been exposed to asbestos. Since the only known cause of this disease is asbestos exposure, it is important to establish and document that history, particularly if you plan to pursue a lawsuit. Let your loved ones know how you may have been exposed to asbestos, what employers you worked for, which job sites you worked at, what equipment you used and who your co-workers were. All of this information will be important to a successful legal claim and the sooner we begin building your case, the greater the likelihood you will be awarded compensation. Read more about what to do if a family member has been diagnosed with mesothelioma

Think About Possible Secondary Asbestos Exposure

When asbestos dust settles into clothing, furniture, shoes, hair, car upholstery and elsewhere, it can be re-released into the air when disturbed. Because of this, some people have unknowingly exposed loved ones to asbestos at home, even if that loved one has never worked around asbestos themselves. Sadly, a simple welcome-home hug could send fibers into the air to be breathed in by family members. 

Unfortunately, this unwitting transfer is the primary method by which many women and children were exposed to asbestos in the early to mid-1900s. We’ve seen first-hand the terrible suffering of one of our clients who developed mesothelioma as a result of doing her husband’s laundry over many years: the asbestos dust embedded in his clothing became dislodged as she handled the items and she then breathed in those toxic fibers. This was a devastating burden to bear for her husband; however, since they were able to put the pieces together of how she developed mesothelioma, they were able to receive substantial compensation for her injuries.

If you or a close family member worked around asbestos during their lifetime and has developed mesothelioma, we encourage you to think about whether you might be able to seek financial compensation for their suffering. Understandably, an overwhelming sense of guilt leads some people into denial, but rest assured, there was no way to know about the dangers of asbestos fibers if the companies didn’t tell you about them. 

Companies that knowingly perpetuated the use of this harmful material for decades after it was known to be dangerous should be held accountable. It was their responsibility to warn purchasers and users about the true hazards, and to list the precautions that should be taken to fully protect against exposure to asbestos from their products. They didn’t and allowed hundreds of thousands of people to suffer.

Time Is Of The Essence 

Many mesothelioma victims are successfully filing lawsuits in Massachusetts to get the compensation they deserve. However, in order to recover maximum financial awards for your asbestos-related injuries, it is important to file a claim as quickly as possible to ensure that your claim falls within the three-year statute of limitations, and that we have time to gather the evidence we need regarding your work history and potential exposure.

Call us today if you think you might have a mesothelioma legal claim and we will help you navigate the process. At Shepard O’Donnell, we have helped hundreds of individuals and their families get justice for their injuries, regularly obtaining settlements and verdicts in the millions. We are happy to offer you a free case evaluation and will tell you honestly if we think you have a viable claim.

Avoiding Asbestos in Hidden Holiday Hazards

The holidays can be a time of contrasts: chaos and contemplation, stress and relaxation, consumption and giving, excess for some and scarcity for others.

In the spirit of balance, we at Shepard O’Donnell want to wish you the happiest of holidays and also warn you of some of the hidden dangers that can be lurking where you least expect them. 

You might not be surprised that we urge caution when taking decorations out of your great-grandmother’s attic: older attics may still contain asbestos insulation and rustling around up there can disturb fibers and dust that you might then bring down into your living space. 

But you may be quite surprised to learn that asbestos might be hiding in some of the vintage wine you are saving for a special occasion! While it’s now illegal, asbestos was used in wine filtration systems across the industry up to the 1970s. Experts say that asbestos fibers are less likely to be found in finer, more expensive wines and that it is relatively rare that you still find wine contaminated with asbestos today. 

Although many of the following items no longer pose an imminent threat, we wanted to share a few holiday-related products in which you might find lingering asbestos:  

Fake Snow

The ideal of a “white Christmas” has been around for decades, popularized by countless movies and songs, and many people wanted to bring that beauty inside. White asbestos, or chrysotile, has a fluffy texture and was once sold as fake snow. People could buy packs of chrysotile, marketed under names like Snow Drift and Pure White, to create festive snowy scenes at home! Unbelievably, the company that made these products advertised them as “safe snow for holiday decorations,” and many people used it to create wintery scenes or flock the Christmas tree. 

Sadly, even Hollywood fell for this misguided advice: The classic film, The Wizard of Oz, used 100% asbestos for the snow that rained down on Dorothy and her friends, and others like Holiday Inn and It’s a Wonderful Life also used it for their snow scenes. 

Vintage Ornaments

Vintage ornaments and other decorations that have a look of frost or snow were probably also made from asbestos. If you’ve inherited decorations from older relatives or purchased them at an antique store, check closely for that telltale dusting of white. 

Model Train Sets

The “snow” was also commonly thrown around toy train sets that circled the Christmas tree or even in the elaborate model railway layouts that may have been set up in your grandfather’s basement. Some modelers also used powdered asbestos, dyed green, as ground cover and it was also often found in plaster.

Old Holiday Lights

Because asbestos was prized for its fire-resistant qualities, old string lights and wires were often insulated with this material. Be very careful when handling these items, especially if you notice any damage.

Artificial Fireplace Ash

Artificial ash made out of asbestos was often used in private homes to create a fake glow in artificial fireplaces before it was banned in 1977. Needless to say, this ash was readily breathed in and posed a real danger to people looking to create a warm ambience during the cold winter months. 

Household Fabrics

Again, the fire-resistant properties of asbestos made it “ideal” for fabrics that might potentially catch fire during normal use, such as oven mitts, tablecloths, mats, and even Christmas tree skirts. Many such products manufactured in the early part of the 20th century were made with asbestos. 

Children’s Pajamas

In a misguided attempt to keep children safe, clothing manufacturers made kid’s pajamas with flame-retardant materials containing asbestos. These were not banned until the 1970s!

Older Household Appliances

Crock pots, toasters, ovens, irons, coffee pots, bottle warmers, popcorn poppers, hair dryers and more used asbestos as insulating material, either to keep their outsides cool, their contents warm, or to insulate their wires. Today, these products don’t pose too much exposure risk to users unless they have damage.


Asbestos curtains first became popular in movie theaters, where the large stage curtain was at risk of catching fire due to the close proximity of hot stage lights. Asbestos curtains were also marketed to homeowners for their fire-resistance and sound insulation benefits and could be found in luxury homes built before 1980.


The binding of some old books, even those bound as late as the mid 1900s, have been found to contain asbestos. Most famously, the first editions of Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury (a novel in which books were banned and any that were found were burned) were released with fire-proof asbestos binding.


As late as 2015, Disney- and Nickelodeon-branded crayons depicting Mickey Mouse, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Power Rangers, were found to contain traces of asbestos. Manufactured in China, these crayons were ultimately recalled and most were disposed of professionally.

Modeling Clay

A Milton Bradley product called Fibro-Clay was a powdery substance used to make paper mache. This product was found to contain asbestos and wasn’t recalled by the Consumer Product Safety Commission until 1983. 

Toy “CSI” Crime Scene Kits

These popular toys, based on the ubiquitous TV shows of the same name and sold at Toys ‘R’ Us and other common retailers, were found to contain asbestos in the fingerprinting powder.  When dusting for prints and blowing the dust away, children could inhale enough asbestos to cause cancer later in life, according to an Environmental Working Group report in 2007. 

Children’s Makeup

Cosmetics and other personal products made with talc are gaining notoriety because talc is frequently contaminated with asbestos fibers. Especially troubling is that asbestos has been found in children’s makeup, including eye shadows and powders, sold by Claire’s and Justice stores as recently as 2020.

Model Airplane Heat Guns

T/F Monokote heat guns used by model airplane hobbyists contained asbestos in the heat shields, and asbestos fibers were released with each use. This product was recalled by the Consumer Product Safety Commission in 1980.  

At Shepard O’Donnell, we wish everyone to enjoy a safe and happy holiday season, free from hazards and harm.