Why You Need Legal Advice When Diagnosed With Mesothelioma

MESO Series: Part III

Why You Need Legal Advice When Diagnosed With Mesothelioma

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: The fact that mesothelioma patients and their families have had to endure pain and suffering, both financial and emotional, as a result of the callous actions of manufacturers of asbestos-containing products is unconscionable. Companies that knowingly perpetuated the use of this harmful material for decades after it was known to be dangerous should be held accountable. Today, many victims are successfully filing lawsuits in Massachusetts to get the compensation they deserve. 

Following a mesothelioma diagnosis, medical bills can start adding up quickly. From initial doctor consultations, to chemotherapy or radiation, to surgery and at-home care, even the best insurance won’t cover the mounting costs. You and your family deserve the peace of mind that comes with knowing an experienced attorney is on your side and will fight for your right to financial compensation to secure your family’s future.

Mesothelioma law firms typically offer a free consultation to discuss a potential case and most firms will only require a fee or out-of-pocket expenses once they win. Legal proceedings will not affect your medical care, insurance, or benefits like Social Security, Medicare, disability, veterans benefits, or retirement. 

There is no downside to seeking legal advice and there may well be a significant financial upside.

Whom To Contact for Help

Almost 2,000 mesothelioma lawsuits were filed nationwide in 2022 against a broad range of manufacturers of asbestos-containing products. Although many corporate entities have since declared bankruptcy to avoid paying for their actions, an estimated $30 billion is available from asbestos trust funds that have been established to help compensate victims. 

If you were exposed to asbestos during the course of your employment – including service in the U.S. military – and have since developed mesothelioma, we encourage you to contact a mesothelioma lawyer as soon as possible to determine whether or not you are eligible for compensation. If you are a U.S. mIlitary veteran with mesothelioma, you may also be eligible for VA benefit programs and we encourage you to reach out to your local VA for assistance.

How to Choose the Right Law Firm 

Before deciding which firm to choose to represent you in your mesothelioma lawsuit, you should do some research to maximize your potential compensation. These types of cases are highly specialized and only a few legal professionals in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts have experience with mesothelioma lawsuits. 

As we outlined in a previous post, there are a number of questions you should ask before hiring a lawyer to defend your rights in a Massachusetts mesothelioma case:

  1. Do they understand Massachusetts law?
  2. Do they know all potential defendants to include in your suit?
  3. Have they tried a case exactly like yours before?
  4. Are they part of the local legal community?
  5. Do they have “boots on the ground” in MA?
  6. Are they personally available to you and your family?
  7. Who will pay for their travel costs (especially if they are out of state)?
  8. Do they truly care about you and your family?
  9. Do they win?

Learn about the answers you should be looking for and why local experience matters most when hiring a mesothelioma litigation firm in Massachusetts in our blog post here

Don’t Miss Out On The Compensation You Deserve

The litigation process can be intimidating and confusing. At Shepard O’Donnell, we take the time to explain the process from beginning to end, setting realistic expectations and timelines. If you are unable to come to our offices due to health or other reasons, we will come to you to listen to your story (even if you live in another state) and tell you honestly if we think you have a viable claim. We want you to be comfortable with the process and learn enough about it so you aren’t surprised by the many steps involved. The legal process does not have to take over your daily life. Our attorneys work diligently in the background, dealing with all the hassles of the litigation process so you don’t have to, allowing you to concentrate on what’s most important—your health and your family.

If you think you might have a mesothelioma case in Massachusetts, we encourage you to reach out to Shepard O’Donnell. We have helped hundreds of individuals and families obtain justice for their injuries, regularly obtaining settlements and verdicts in the millions. And you will never pay unless we deliver results for you. 

Mesothelioma Diagnosis, Prognosis, and Treatment Options

MESO Series: Part II

Diagnosis, Prognosis, and Treatment Options

The typical mesothelioma patient is a man around retirement age with a blue-collar or military background. The relatively advanced age of patients is due to the long latency period of this disease, which typically manifests between 20-50 years after exposure to asbestos. Cruelly, it is just as workers are set to enjoy their retirement years, that they are diagnosed with mesothelioma. While workers who have been in close contact with asbestos are at the highest risk, family members can also be at risk via exposure to fibers brought home on the clothing of the primary individual.

If you or someone you know has experienced any of the symptoms outlined in our previous post, we encourage you to seek medical attention right away. It is critical to let your doctor know as early as possible if there’s even a small chance you may have been exposed to asbestos during your working years. If you aren’t currently experiencing any symptoms, but are concerned about possible past exposure, ask your doctor to set up regular monitoring. However, keep in mind that not everyone who has been exposed to asbestos will get mesothelioma or other cancers.

How Do You Diagnose Mesothelioma?

Mesothelioma can be difficult to diagnose because it often looks like other types of cancer, or even benign illnesses such as pneumonia, flu, or intestinal issues. Your doctor will likely use a variety of diagnostic tools, including a physical exam, blood and tissue tests, x-rays and other imaging scans, and biopsies to determine whether or not mesothelioma is present. If mesothelioma is diagnosed, these tests also help determine how far it has progressed and whether it has spread to other parts of the body. The cancer can spread via tissue, the lymph system, or the blood.

The process used to find out if cancer has spread outside the pleura (lungs) or peritoneum (abdomen) is called staging. As with other cancers, there are four stages of the disease. Doctors will ask questions such as: How far has cancer spread in the pleura? Has it spread into other nearby pleura or structures? Can it be removed with surgery? Has the cancer spread to nearby lymph nodes? Has the cancer spread to distant organs, like the bones, liver, lungs, or pleura (lining of the lung) on the other side of the body, or the peritoneum (lining of the abdomen)?

Depending on the answers, pleural mesothelioma, for example, can be divided into four stages: 

  • Stage 1: Cancer is only in the pleura. At this stage, you may be a candidate for treatments like surgery to remove the cancer.
  • Stage 2: Cancer may have spread beyond your pleura, but it’s still near the original site. At this stage, surgery plus chemotherapy or radiation may be indicated.
  • Stage 3: Cancer has spread to nearby organs and lymph nodes. A cancer at this stage likely requires aggressive treatment and includes a combination of treatment approaches.
  • Stage 4: Cancer has spread to other organs, or metastasized. Aggressive treatment and possibly palliative care is recommended at this stage of the disease.

It is important to know what stage the cancer is in order to plan the correct treatment. For a more detailed breakdown of each stage of pleural mesothelioma, please view the outline on cancer.gov. If you are facing a positive mesothelioma diagnosis, we encourage you to get a second opinion to be certain that your symptoms are indeed associated with mesothelioma. 

What Is The Prognosis for Mesothelioma?

According to the National Cancer Institute, the prognosis and treatment options for mesothelioma depends on a number of factors, including the stage of the cancer, the size of the tumor, the patient’s age and activity level, as well as his or her general health, including lung and heart health. 

Mesothelioma has historically had a poor prognosis, and the current life expectancy of a patient diagnosed with the disease, with treatment, is around 18-36 months. Treatment for early-stage disease with surgery and radiation can extend a patient’s life expectancy, but many patients either are too ill to undergo aggressive surgery or present with advanced disease. Palliative care remains an important component of the management of this devastating illness.

However, there is some good news. Early detection, advancements in treatment options, as well as new, targeted treatments are cause for optimism, with many patients outliving their prognosis by years.

What Are The Treatment Options for Mesothelioma?

If you have been diagnosed with mesothelioma, you will work closely with a specialist to develop a treatment plan specific to your situation. It is very important to establish strong relationships with a team of experts able to provide support and guidance in all aspects of the management of mesothelioma.

As mentioned, there are four stages of meso with progressively aggressive treatment options, including: 

  • Surgery 
  • Radiation 
  • Chemotherapy
  • Immunotherapy
  • Targeted therapy

For some patients, taking part in a clinical trial may be the best treatment choice. Clinical trials are part of the cancer research process. Clinical trials are done to find out if new cancer treatments are safe and effective or better than the standard treatment. Detailed information on each of these treatment options is available at cancer.gov. It is important to discuss all available options with your doctor to be sure you’re getting the right treatment for your particular disease. 

We are not medical experts and urge you to speak with your doctor or specialist regarding your diagnosis and potential treatment options. Over decades of successfully fighting for financial compensation for mesothelioma victims, we have worked with many excellent specialists in this field and are happy to provide you with a list of local mesothelioma medical experts. 

Contact Us For Help

You and your family are undoubtedly experiencing emotional stress and trauma as you deal with this painful time in your lives. Make sure you find an attorney for whom you are not just a number on a spreadsheet or a docket. We are responsive, compassionate, and sincere. 

If you think you might have a mesothelioma legal case in Massachusetts, we encourage you to reach out to us. We have helped hundreds of individuals and families get justice for their injuries, regularly obtaining settlements and verdicts in the millions. We are happy to offer you a free case evaluation. If you like, we will come to your house to listen to your story and will tell you honestly if we think you have a viable claim. 



For more information on mesothelioma and its various treatment options, including some new targeted therapies, please read Mesothelioma: a Review by Frank E. Mott, MD, FACP on the National Library of Medicine website. 

Detailed stages:

[from https://www.cancer.gov/types/mesothelioma/patient/mesothelioma-treatment-pdq#_50

For more on the stages: ​​ https://www.cancer.org/cancer/types/malignant-mesothelioma/detection-diagnosis-staging/staging.html 



What is Mesothelioma? 

Mesothelioma Series: Part I

What is Mesothelioma? 

We’ve all seen the commercials about mesothelioma on TV, but unless it has affected us personally, few of us know what mesothelioma is and how devastating this disease can be for individuals and their families.

Mesothelioma is an insidious disease with a long latency period, meaning it often takes decades to develop—typically 20-50 years from initial exposure. It is a form of cancer that affects the mesothelium, the lining that protects the lungs, abdomen, heart, and other major organs in the body. A malignant tumor of the mesothelium is called a malignant mesothelioma, often shortened to simply, mesothelioma. There are four main types of mesothelioma:

  1. Mesothelioma of the lungs: the most common form of mesothelioma affecting about 80% of patients, is called pleural mesothelioma
  2. Mesothelioma of the abdomen: known as peritoneal mesothelioma.
  3. Mesothelioma associated with the heart: called pericardial mesothelioma, referring to the pericardial cavity around the heart. 
  4. Less common forms of the disease (less than 1% of cases) are papillary and testicular mesothelioma, affecting the ovaries and testicles. 

A mesothelioma diagnosis is a life-changing event with emotional, physical, and financial consequences. Learn more about the medical aspects of mesothelioma at the American Cancer Society and the American Lung Association and read more about diagnosis and treatment options here.

How Do You Get Mesothelioma?

The only known cause of mesothelioma is exposure to asbestos. 

Asbestos is a naturally occurring fibrous mineral that is both durable and fire-proof and has been used for decades in the manufacture of various commercial and industrial products, including textiles for clothing. Asbestos was first used in construction in the mid-1800s, and it was as early as the 1930s that harmful effects associated with its use were first documented. It wasn’t until 1989, however, that the EPA announced it would phase out the use of asbestos in almost all products in the U.S., but by that time, millions of workers had been exposed. 

Asbestos fibers create dust or powder when handled, which is then inhaled or ingested during a workday. These fibers can lodge in internal organs, leading to the development of tumors. Workers across a range of industries have been exposed regularly to asbestos-containing materials, including those in: 

  • Shipping
  • Plumbing
  • Construction
  • Aircraft Maintenance 
  • Auto Shops
  • Paper Mills
  • Pipefitting 
  • Powerhouses
  • and other workplaces

Unfortunately, many individuals diagnosed with mesothelioma are Veterans

Common products used and handled during a typical workday include:

  • Construction materials such as sheetrock and wallboard
  • Roofing, shingles, and siding
  • Flooring and tiles
  • Pipe covering and insulation
  • Electrical cables and wire
  • Boilers, pumps, and generators
  • Gaskets, valves, and packing material
  • Rope, wick, and cord
  • Protective clothing and textiles
  • Automotive materials such as brake pads and transmission plates
  • Adhesives, cement, and sealants
  • Raw asbestos

Despite the early warnings, manufacturers and installers of these materials continued to sell and install asbestos products for decades without warning workers of the terrible dangers they faced. The EPA estimates that from 1940 to 1980, 27.5 million Americans were exposed to asbestos at work. While those exposed at work are at the highest risk, family members can also be at risk via exposure to fibers brought home on the clothing of the primary individual.

What Are The Symptoms of Mesothelioma?

Mesothelioma develops years, often decades, after the initial asbestos exposure. Since many of the symptoms are similar to other less dangerous illnesses, such as pneumonia, flu, or intestinal issues, it often goes undiagnosed until it has reached the later stages of the disease. 

Symptoms can vary based on where the tumor is located and at what stage the cancer is but can include:

Pleural mesothelioma (lungs)

  • Shortness of breath
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Chest pains
  • Lower back pain
  • Coughing blood
  • Sensory loss
  • Cough (regular or dry)
  • Loss of appetite
  • Sweating (profusely)
  • Weight loss
Peritoneal mesothelioma (abdominal)

  • Weight loss
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Hernia
  • Swelling of the abdomen
  • Abdominal pain
  • Feeling full early
  • Loss of appetite
  • Pain (any form)
Pericardial mesothelioma (heart)

  • Chest pain
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Fatigue
  • Dry cough
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Fatigue
  • Right shoulder pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Swelling of the legs or lower extremities

If you or someone you know is experiencing any of these symptoms we strongly encourage them to seek medical advice, especially if you suspect they’ve been exposed to asbestos in their lifetime. 

Stay tuned for the next installment of our blog series on mesothelioma, which focuses on the diagnosis, prognosis, and treatment options for this disease.

Contact Us For Help

Companies that knowingly perpetuated the use of this harmful material for decades after it was determined dangerous should be held accountable. If you think you might have a mesothelioma case in Massachusetts, we encourage you to contact us. We have helped hundreds of individuals and families obtain justice for their injuries, regularly reaching settlements and verdicts in the millions. We are happy to offer you a free case evaluation. If you like, we will come to your house to listen to your story and will tell you honestly if we think you have a viable claim. 

Why Local Experience Matters Most When Hiring A Mesothelioma Litigation Firm In Massachusetts

Is Bigger Really Better? 

Why Local Experience Matters Most When Hiring A Mesothelioma Litigation Firm In Massachusetts

Mesothelioma is a devastating disease that develops years after exposure to asbestos-containing material. This exposure invariably occurred in the normal course of employment, and workers had no idea they were entering a potentially dangerous environment day after day. No one told them that while they were simply trying to provide for their families, they were risking their future health.

The fact that mesothelioma patients and their families have had to endure pain and suffering, both financial and emotional, as a result of the callous actions of manufacturers of asbestos-containing products is unconscionable. Companies that knowingly perpetuated the use of this harmful material for decades after it was known to be harmful should be held accountable, and many victims are successfully filing lawsuits in Massachusetts to get compensation for their injuries. 

But what is the best way to make sure these companies pay? 

If you or a loved one is suffering or suffered from mesothelioma in Massachusetts, you have a number of options when hiring a lawyer to represent you, from mesothelioma mega-firms that tout their size and geographic reach as benefits, to smaller local firms who have practiced in the state for many years. Which of these options provides the best chance for success? 

Ask yourself the following questions when choosing the right firm to represent your interests in a Massachusetts mesothelioma case:

Do they understand Massachusetts law?
If you file your case in Massachusetts, you want someone who thoroughly understands the state’s legal landscape. In complicated mesothelioma cases, your attorney should be very familiar with state laws, the Judge and Special Master, the defense attorneys on the other side, and the local rules of discovery and deposition, which vary widely from state to state. In fact, your case could be dismissed outright if your lawyer does not strictly follow the proper rules and procedures. Even improperly filling out a Plaintiff’s Disclosure Form can have serious ramifications for your case, potentially precluding claims against liable defendants, meaning your final award will be less than you could have received. 

Do they know who to sue?
In addition to knowing how to file the case for maximum benefit, your attorney should fully understand who to include in the suit. There are myriad potential defendants in a mesothelioma case, some obvious and some less so. Lawyers from out of state may not be familiar with the suppliers of specific asbestos-containing products used in Massachusetts. They could overlook potential defendants that would add to your financial recovery. Do they know the names of all the contractors, distributors, wholesalers, and suppliers involved? Experienced local lawyers will have intimate knowledge of the entire pool of potential defendants specific to your jobsites.

Have they tried a case exactly like yours before?

Lawyers have varied interests and experience, and many practice in multiple different areas of law. However, the specialized and detailed nature of a mesothelioma lawsuit does not lend itself well to dabblers in the area. Many mesothelioma cases in Massachusetts stem from similar jobsites, projects or exposures, be they paper mills, navy ships, powerhouses, shipyards, high-rise office buildings, or a host of other workplaces. Even those who were self-employed often worked with the same asbestos products. Is your attorney well-versed in the history of asbestos use in the state and have they successfully tried similar cases against all possible defendants? Specific, relevant Massachusetts asbestos litigation experience is critical to a successful outcome.

Are they part of the local landscape?
As in many other areas, communities in Massachusetts are tight-knit and tend to help and support their own. Opening up to out-of-staters can be more difficult, and to the extent that there is some implicit bias against outsiders, there is the potential it could negatively affect your case. 

As a test, ask your prospective attorney to pronounce these names: Quincy, Haverhill, Worcester, Stoneham, or Amherst. You will quickly learn whether they are truly part of our community!

Do they have “boots on the ground” in MA?
All cases litigated in Massachusetts require a Massachusetts-licensed attorney to bring the case to court. That means if your attorney is in another state and not licensed to practice in Massachusetts, they will need to add local counsel to the team to help with the case, sponsor their access to the courts, and navigate the local rules and procedures. This seems like an extra step: why not hire experienced local counsel to begin with? Even if they are paying the local counsel out of their fee, how motivated is your out-of-state lawyer when he or she is splitting the fee with a local lawyer hired to help them?

Are they personally available?
In a highly complex lawsuit involving hundreds, sometimes thousands of important details, it’s natural for you to have questions. Having personal access to your lawyer whenever you need clarification of a certain aspect of your case, or just want reassurance that everything is on track, can make all the difference to your peace of mind. Often, large firms in diverse locations have multiple hoops to jump through before you are connected with someone familiar with your case and can knowledgeably answer your questions. When you call, are you directed to someone on a “team” working on your case? Do you talk to a different person every time you call? That’s code for a large law firm having too many cases to keep one lawyer on your case from start to finish. A local firm entirely dedicated to your case can often answer your questions with one email, text, or phone call.

Who will pay for their travel costs?
Cases going back many years and involving numerous defendants require detailed and in-depth discovery, unearthing miles of paper trails and conducting multiple in-person depositions. This work needs to be done locally, and if your attorney is from out of state, his or her travel and associated costs will quickly add up. While you may not have to pay these costs up front, they are not free and will ultimately come out of your settlement, lowering your compensation.

Do they really care about you and your family?
You and your family are undoubtedly experiencing emotional stress and trauma as you deal with this painful time in your lives. Especially now, you need an attorney who is present, who cares about what’s happening to you, and who is committed to seeking justice in your case. Make sure you find an attorney for whom you are not just a number on a spreadsheet or a docket. Having responsive, compassionate, and sincere counsel that understands the local court system and who lives and works in the same state is crucial to success – financial success and having a positive experience while going through the process.

Do they win?

Above all, you are hoping for compensation for your suffering. Ask to see your attorney’s successful track record in cases like yours, and in the place you live.

The answers to the above questions will help you make an informed decision about hiring the right attorney for your case. If you think you might have a mesothelioma case in Massachusetts we encourage you to reach out to Shepard O’Donnell. We have helped hundreds of individuals and families obtain justice for their injuries, regularly obtaining settlements and verdicts numbering in the millions. We’d be happy to discuss these questions with you and offer you a free case evaluation. If you like, we will come to your house to listen to your story and will tell you honestly if we think you have a viable claim. And you will never pay unless we deliver results for you. 

Erika O'Donnell Featured in Super Lawyers Article

Erika O’Donnell was recently quoted in Super Lawyers’ article discussing the actions you must take, and when, if you or a loved one fall ill from asbestos.

The actions you must take, and when, if you or a loved one fall ill from asbestos

Read the full article

COVID-19 Countermeasures: Liability Immunity Under The PREP Act

Written by: Giuliana D’Esopo

On March 17, 2020, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (“HHS”) published an administrative Declaration providing broad legal immunity for manufacturers, suppliers, and administrators of certain countermeasures used against COVID-191. Negligence cases regarding covered countermeasures will be barred, limiting an injured party’s possible redress to the Countermeasures Injury Compensation Program (“CICP”).

The authority to issue such declaration arises out of the Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness Act (the “PREP Act”).2 Congress enacted the PREP Act in 2005 as a response to fears about an avian influenza (H5N1) pandemic.3 Through the issuance of such PREP Act declaration, the Secretary makes a determination that a disease, condition, or other threat to health constitutes a public health emergency and specifies, among others, the category of diseases, health conditions, or threats to health for which the Secretary recommends the administration or use of the covered countermeasure, and the period during which the liability protections are in effect.4

The PREP Act defines “covered countermeasure” by outlining three categories.5 The first consists of “qualified pandemic or epidemic products” and includes products (drugs, biological products, and devices) manufactured, used, designed, developed, modified, licensed, or procured to diagnose, mitigate, prevent, treat, or cure a pandemic or epidemic or to limit the harm such pandemic or epidemic might otherwise cause.6 The second category describes “security countermeasures,” and the final category consists of products subject to emergency use authorizations.7 The PREP Act’s liability protections are extremely broad, essentially covering most manufacture, testing, development, distribution, dispensing, administration, or use of designated covered countermeasures absent willful misconduct.

The PREP Act authorizes the Secretary to establish a program to provide compensation to individuals who have suffered serious physical injuries or death as the direct result of the administration or use of a covered countermeasure, called the Countermeasures Injury Compensation Program (“CICP”).8 Eligible requesters include injured countermeasure recipients, survivors of deceased injured countermeasure recipients who died as a direct result of the administration or use of a covered countermeasure, and executors or administrators on behalf of the estates of deceased injured countermeasure recipients (regardless of their cause of death).9 Requesters will need to prove causation pursuant to CICP’s standard: proof that is based on “compelling, reliable, valid, medical, and scientific evidence.”10 A temporal association between receipt of the countermeasure and onset of the injury is insufficient.

Requesters who successfully demonstrate causation can recover reimbursement for reasonable and necessary medical services and items to diagnose or treat a covered injury or its health complications; lost wages; and death benefit for certain survivors.11 Benefits under CICP will only be paid after the requester has in good faith attempted to obtain available coverage from all third-party payers with an obligation to pay for or provide such benefits, and the requester must provide the information of such payers.12 If a request is denied, the requester can motion the Secretary of HHS to review the determination, but there is a broad statutory prohibition against any further review.13

It is too early to predict the effectiveness of CICP as a route toward remedy for parties injured by covered countermeasures of COVID-19, but compared to traditional tort procedure, it is seemingly unfriendly to requesters. The lack of judicial oversight is cause for concern, with no further appeals available beyond internal review. While traditional tort procedure allows an injured party his day in court, decisions under the CICP are made on an administrative basis. The process for attorneys evaluating a potential case will be to determine the presence of a covered countermeasure and whether the individual or entity that administered it is shielded from tort liability under the Declaration, and to meet the Declaration’s standard for showing causation.

There is a clear need for the development and distribution of life-saving measures to combat the COVID-19 pandemic, and the Declaration helps encourage such innovation. In the pursuit of this goal, is important to consider potential risks and employ reasonable care in the production of such countermeasures.

Raw Asbestos Imports Quadrupled from January–April 2018 Compared to 2017

Written by: Shepard Law Firm Staff

Washington, DC—The Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization (ADAO), an independent nonprofit dedicated to preventing asbestos exposure, released new research confirming the increase in raw asbestos imports.

The report detailed that according to the U.S. International Trade Commission, from January to April 2018, the chemical industry brought in nearly 260 tons of asbestos from Russia and Brazil. This represents an increase of nearly 400% of the January–April 2017 imports of 67 tons. The president’s administration and the Environmental Protection Agency, who have close ties to the chemical industry, have defended the ongoing imports and use of this deadly substance.

Asbestos is a known carcinogen and there is no safe or controlled use of asbestos. According to the new “Global Asbestos Disaster” paper, asbestos-related diseases account for nearly 40,000 American deaths each year. This year alone, asbestos has been found in children’s makeup, in schools in Pennsylvania, and in a prison hospital in Georgia.

We believe that asbestos use should be eliminated to protect the public and this trend of increasing the importation of asbestos may possibly expose more individuals to health risks. If you or a close family member have developed mesothelioma or other asbestos-related illnesses, please do not hesitate to contact us for a free consultation.

Case Spotlight: The Auto Mechanic’s Wife

Written by: Shepard Law Firm Staff

When someone is diagnosed with an asbestos-related disease such as mesothelioma or lung cancer, they are often asked where and how they were exposed to asbestos. For people who did not work in asbestos-related industries or trades, it can be difficult to determine how they were exposed. This is often the case with women who have been diagnosed with an asbestos-related disease and were either housewives or worked in fields that did not have obvious exposures to asbestos-containing products.

When determining where a person (who had little or no direct exposure to asbestos) may have encountered asbestos fibers, attorneys often look to family members who lived with the individual for significant periods of time. Husbands and fathers of the sick individual often worked in trades that involved frequent contact with asbestos-containing products. Asbestos fibers from these products were then brought home on clothing and into the family home and car. Anyone washing the work clothing of individuals who frequently worked with asbestos-containing products was at an increased risk of developing an asbestos-related disease.

Our firm recently represented the family of a woman who never worked directly with any asbestos-containing products, and did not work in any commercial or industrial locations where asbestos products were present. In trying to determine how she may have been exposed, the occupations of her family members were explored. Her husband had worked for a number of years as a truck driver and mechanic and was responsible for performing brake and clutch jobs on the trucks he drove. She was responsible for washing the clothes he wore to work every day, clothes that transported asbestos fibers home and into her lungs.

Brake linings, clutch facings, and a variety of gaskets on automobiles contained asbestos until very recently. Brake linings were one of the last products to have asbestos removed from them, and asbestos-containing brake linings were sold as recently as 2001. When old brake linings and clutch facings were removed and replaced, the brake or clutch was often cleaned out with an air hose or cloth rag. The cleaning created a significant amount of dust, which the worker would breathe in and collect in his hair and on his clothing.

Many people want to ask the obvious question: how is it that the wife or other family member of the worker became sick and not the worker himself? The answer is that not everyone who is exposed to asbestos will develop an asbestos-related disease. Some people work directly with asbestos products every day for years and never get sick, while others develop mesothelioma with only limited exposure to asbestos. Additionally, the latency period for developing asbestos-related disease ranges from approximately 20 to 50 years. This means that most people who develop asbestos-related diseases don’t show any symptoms until decades after they were exposed.

If you or someone you know has an asbestos-related disease and did not work in industries that used asbestos containing products, it’s important to find a firm with extensive experience in investigating such scenarios. Shepard Law has extensive experience reviewing and gathering evidence to help determine the source of asbestos exposure for victims such as these. This experience is crucial because proper documentation and investigation strengthens a client’s case in the legal system. As always, if you suffer from an asbestos-related disease and believe that you have a case, contact us for a confidential consultation.

Assisting Families Affected by Mesothelioma: Quick and Meaningful Tips

Written by: Erika O’Donnell

A diagnosis of mesothelioma is extremely difficult on the whole family. There are so many questions to be answered, so many appointments to keep track of, and so many difficult decisions to be made. However, there are things that you can do to assist a family who is dealing with a diagnosis of mesothelioma:

Set up a meal train.

  • Patients with mesothelioma and their families have many appointments to go to and preparing healthy meals after a day filled with doctors’ appointments and/or treatments is easier said than done. Organizing a meal train is a helpful way to make sure the person diagnosed with mesothelioma and his/her caregiver is getting the nutrition they need.
  • There are many websites that can help you organize and participate in providing meals to the family in need such as https://www.mealtrain.com/ or https://www.takethemameal.com/.
  • Some friends and family may prefer to purchase a gift card rather than cooking a meal. Make a list of eateries that the person being treated for mesothelioma may like a gift certificate from. Good places to suggest are eateries in the area of the hospital and/or treatment facility and take-out places close to home.

Set up a care schedule.

  • Between doctor’s visits and treatments, a person diagnosed with mesothelioma has a lot to organize and a lot to consider when choosing where to treat for their disease. In Massachusetts, we are lucky to have some of the best hospitals in the world for the treatment of mesothelioma right in Boston. For many, the choice to be treated at these hospitals brings the stress of traveling into Boston. In some cases, having someone volunteer to drive a person with mesothelioma into Boston would provide great relief.
  • A person undergoing treatment will have a variety of needs (a ride to a doctor’s appointment, an appointment to get their glasses fixed, new socks, etc.). A care website will allow the person with mesothelioma to schedule the assistance they need. Friends and family can then volunteer through the site to provide the assistance. One such site is http://lotsahelpinghands.com/.


Providing family meals is a small but meaningful way to help out families.

Spend time.

  • Mesothelioma can be a very painful and debilitating disease. Many people who are diagnosed with mesothelioma also struggle with depression as a result of their diagnosis. Spending time with a person diagnosed with mesothelioma is a wonderful way to support them though their diagnosis. Remember, the patient may be suffering and is not there to entertain you. You are there to comfort them and provided some much needed respite for their caregiver.

Take care of technological needs.

Many people who have been diagnosed with mesothelioma are older and not technologically advanced. There are many apps and websites that may benefit them greatly but they may not be aware of. Take some time to help that person:

  • Skype with a grandchild who lives far away
  • Set up a Netflix queue so when they have difficulty sleeping due to pain, they don’t have to watch infomercials
  • Show them how to play Candy Crush so that they have something to pass the time while getting chemotherapy treatments

Support their lawsuit.

  • Mesothelioma is caused by exposure to asbestos. Unfortunately, the manufacturers of asbestos-containing products knew of the hazards of exposure to asbestos but continued using asbestos and did not warn persons coming into contact with it to take any precautions. For that reason, many patients diagnosed with mesothelioma choose to pursue a lawsuit against the manufacturers of asbestos-containing products that they came into contact with during their career. Asbestos can take between 15 and 60 years to cause disease in your body. Which means that in order to be successful in a lawsuit, a person with mesothelioma needs to prove the types of asbestos they were exposed to 15 – 60 years earlier. This is no easy feat. Many times, people with mesothelioma must reach out to co-workers to help them remember the products they worked with or the people they worked around. It is easy to brush off those inquiries for fear of being involved in litigation but taking those phone calls could mean a great deal to that family. Supporting the person’s lawsuit can set them up for financial assistance which will greatly help their family when paying for all the medical bills and other costs associated with treatment for mesothelioma.

For a family dealing with the consequences of mesothelioma, doing even just one of the above activities will be a great help to them. Don’t think that your small act of kindness and friendship won’t be appreciated by the family.

Urban Redevelopment and Revitalization: The Next Wave of Asbestos Exposures?

Written by: Shepard Law Firm Staff

It was recently announced that the L Street power plant in South Boston was being put up for sale by its current owner, Exelon Corp. This news likely has developers around Boston ready to pounce on the property, due to its proximity to the booming commercial real estate market of the Seaport District and the ever-increasing property values in South Boston. It is likely that the property will eventually be re-developed as a mixed-use property, featuring office space, residential condominiums and apartments, as well as commercial space. However, the fact that this property served as an active power plant for over a century may lead to a number of obstacles for potential re-development projects.

The former Boston Edison power plant first went into operation in 1892 as a coal-fired power plant. The plant was later transitioned to an oil-fired and later a natural gas plant, until it was retired in 2007. The property occupies 18 acres off of L Street at the border of South Boston and the burgeoning Seaport District. While the Environmental Protection Agency has been monitoring the property in recent years due to issues including contaminated soil and other environmental hazards, any proposed redevelopment projects are likely to be closely scrutinized by state and federal agencies.

Workers at power plants such as the Boston Edison L Street plant were exposed to a great variety of asbestos-containing products, including:

  • Boiler insulation and firebrick
  • Turbine insulation
  • Gaskets and packing used in industrial pumps and valves
  • Steam pipe insulation

As a result of these exposures, a large number of former workers at the L Street plant developed mesothelioma, asbestosis, and other asbestos-related conditions. While power plant workers up until the 1980’s were exposed to these products though directly installing or maintaining equipment in the plant, a new wave of exposures is likely to occur when old power plants and industrial spaces are re-developed or demolished. As urban renewal and gentrification takes place in cities across the country, developers and city officials will need to identify and deal with the issue of in-place asbestos being disturbed as former industrial buildings and power plants are renovated into commercial and residential property. Due to the significant amount of asbestos-containing products used in power plants and other industrial buildings through the 1980’s, the expense of remediation could be significant.

The danger of asbestos fibers being released during any demolition of existing structures on the L Street property may limit the options potential developers have in planning the re-development of the property. If existing buildings are to be renovated to become loft-style housing or office space, asbestos remediation contractors will have to make sure existing asbestos insulation on the property is properly encapsulated and secured. Simply demolishing the existing structures on the property may risk releasing airborne asbestos fibers into a heavily populated area. Regardless of what happens with the former L Street Power Plant, it is clear that the next wave of asbestos-related diseases will be caused by asbestos that is currently in place, and is disturbed and release during the course of renovation and demolition of old buildings.

If you or a loved one is an undergoing treatment for lung cancer or mesothelioma and would like to learn more about your rights please call us for free, confidential consultation (617) 451-9191.

For further information regarding the L Street Power Plant click here.