St. Louis Missouri Mesothelioma Lawyer Discussing Asbestos Exposure Cases

In a recent Supreme Court of Missouri Appeal case (Accident Fund Insurance Company; E.J. Cody Company, Inc. v. Robert Casey, Employee/Dolores Murphy), The Missouri Supreme Court ruled in favor of the Employee. Robert Casey died from mesothelioma caused by repeated exposure to asbestos in the workplace. Before his death, Mr. Casey worked as a floor tile installer and filed a claim for workers’ compensation benefits, with which his widow, Ms. Murphy, proceeded following his death. The Missouri Supreme Court stated “Due to his extensive asbestos exposure, Mr. Casey was diagnosed with mesothelioma in the fall of 2014. He filed a claim for workers’ compensation benefits against his Employer in February 2015. At the time he filed the claim, Employer was covered under an insurance policy purchased from Insurer. The policy included an endorsement titled “Missouri Notification of Additional Mesothelioma Benefits Endorsement,” providing in pertinent part: Section 287.200.4, subdivision (3), of the Missouri Revised Statutes provides additional benefits in the case of occupational diseases due to toxic exposure that are diagnosed to be mesothelioma and result in permanent total disability or death. Your policy provides insurance for these additional benefits. By accepting this policy, Employer opted in to liability coverage for the additional mesothelioma benefits provided by Section 287.200.4, which allows for enhanced compensation for “all [mesothelioma] claims filed on or after January 1, 2014.”

The Missouri’s workers’ compensation law was amended in 2014 to provide enhanced compensation for individuals diagnosed with occupational diseases such as mesothelioma. Section 287.200.4(3). Coverage is provided for “all claims filed on or after January 1, 2014, for occupational diseases due to toxic exposure which result in a permanent total disability or death.” Section 287.200.4. Employers may either accept or reject liability for mesothelioma. If an employer elects to accept liability, it must insure its “entire liability” under the act, which includes accepting all of the act’s provisions. In other words, an insurer cannot avoid certain liabilities by constructing its policy to exclude certain provisions of the workers’ compensation statute and cover only the provisions it prefers. The Supreme Court concluded that because Mr. Casey’s exposure to asbestos occurred while he was employed by E.J. Cody Company, Inc. (“Employer”), its insurer, Accident Fund National Insurance Company (“Insurer”), was liable since the employer purchased a policy which was meant to cover all of the employer’s workers’ compensation liability, and which included a mesothelioma endorsement to cover all liability arising out of any mesothelioma claims filed on our after January 1, 2014.

The Missouri Supreme Court found that the standard policy provision which limits liability for exposure injuries to those which were caused by exposure during the policy period was modified by the addition of the mesothelioma endorsement. The Court observed that to rule otherwise would make the mesothelioma endorsement “essentially worthless”.

When you or a family member has been diagnosed with Mesothelioma, our dedicated lawyers can help. Mogab & Hughes Attorneys has been in business for 55 years and has handled numerous work and non-work related mesothelioma cases. If you need help, contact Attorney David Hughes at 314-241-4477 or email davidhughes@mogabandhughes.com. We offer a free consultation, extensive knowledge in asbestos related diseases and laws, and will thoroughly investigate, research, and gather evidence for your Mesothelioma case.

 

Have You Been Exposed To Benzene On The Job And Developed Cancer?

Mogab & Hughes Attorneys handle Benzene cases. Contact us if you believe your occupational disease was caused by diesel exposure. Below are some frequently asked questions about Benzene:

What is Benzene?

Benzene is a highly flammable colorless chemical that, at room temperature, is liquid, but evaporates quickly. Benzene occurs naturally in crude oil. Benzene is a component of petroleum products including diesel fuel and gasoline.  Benzene is among the twenty most utilized chemicals in the United States.  Benzene is often used as a base material in products like plastics, degreasers, solvents, lubricants, pesticides, rubbers, dyes, resins, and nylons.

Is There Benzene in Diesel Exhaust?

Yes.  Benzene can be found in both the gas phase and the soot associated with diesel exhaust.

What are the Exposure Routes for Benzene?

Benzene can be inhaled, ingested or absorbed through the skin and even, the eyes.  If you’ve spent years working around diesel fuel, vapors and exhaust, you’ve unfortunately been exposed to benzene.

What Type of Workers are Exposed to Benzene?

Through the years, railroad workers have suffered benzene exposures via use of mineral spirits, solvents, degreasers and through diesel exposures.  Firefighters suffer regular benzene exposures.  Workers in numerous industries including chemical plants, oil refineries, steel plants, printing presses, fuel service stations, tanneries and tire plants are also regularly exposed.

What Type of Products Contain Benzene?

Fuels, inks, glues, paints, solvents, detergents, degreasers, lubricants, pesticides, rubbers, coatings, polishes, thinners and waxes.  Some well-known brands that contained benzene include Liquid Wrench, Naptha, Gumout and Ortho Weed-B-Gone.

What Illnesses are Associated with Benzene Exposures?

Various blood and bone marrow disorders including Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML), Myelodysplastic Syndrome (MDS), Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia (ALL) and Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia (CLL), Multiple Myeloma, Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, and Aplastic Anemia are linked as well.  Benzene is classified as “Carcinogenic to Humans” by the World Health Organization.  In the United States, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and National Institutes of Health (NIH), all classify benzene as either “known to be a human carcinogen” or “known human carcinogen.”

Have Doctors Just Determined that Benzene is Dangerous?

No.  Benzene has been used commercially since the 1800’s and even back then, doctors were able to note the detrimental effects that it had on workers.  As with asbestos, big corporations continued to use benzene because in their mind, the utility of its uses outweighed the risks to their employees.

But Aren’t Benzene Exposures Safe at Lower Levels?

Despite what the petrochemical conglomerates, steel mills, railroads and oil field bosses tell you, there is no safe level of benzene exposure.  The corporate defendants will hire experts to say your exposures were at “safe levels”, but there is no denying the genetic damage wreaked by long-term exposures to benzene. Plaintiffs with benzene “biomarkers” who are suffering from occupational diseases like acute myeloid leukemia and myelodysplastic syndrome have very strong cases.

What happens after I call your firm?

We will analyze all the workplace exposures and determine the best legal avenues for the ideal results.  Our analysis begins with diesel and often leads to other toxins in the workplace associated with the illness at hand.  We consult with top medical and toxicological experts to prove your case.

If you suspect that you have been exposed to Benzene in your line of work, and have developed a condition, please contact us today at 314-241-4477.

 

INSURANCE COMPANY OFFERS $750, WE SETTLE FOR $50,000

I was representing a client in two worker’s compensation claims against the same employer, one involving her right shoulder and the other involving her low back.  The employer-insurer provided treatment and it was determined that no surgery was necessary and the client was released to return to work at full duty at her regular job.

On her first morning back to work after being released by the worker’s compensation doctor, while attempting to make a left turn into the plant where she was employed, she was struck from the rear by another vehicle, and she alleged that she re-injured her low back.  Since she was not yet on the job, worker’s compensation would not cover her injury, and therefore, she looked to the driver of the vehicle that struck her from behind for compensation for her injuries.  My client received a letter from the claims adjuster for State Farm Insurance Company, which insured the vehicle that struck her, which stated as follows: “Based on the documentation you have provided, we have extended an offer of settlement of $750.00.”  Attached to the offer was a copy of a photograph of the rear of plaintiff’s vehicle taken by State Farm which basically showed no damage at all to my client’s vehicle.  State Farm took the position that this was a low speed, low impact collision with little or no damage to the client’s vehicle.  The letter also pointed out that since the client had just been released from treatment for her low back injury, it was State Farm’s position that no new injury had occurred.

I agreed to represent my worker’s compensation client in her claim against the other driver and immediately filed a lawsuit in the Circuit Court of St. Louis County, where the accident occurred.  I alleged in my lawsuit that the MRI of my client’s low back taken before the accident showed a bulging disc at the L4-5 level from the work-related injury and an MRI of my client’s low back taken after the accident showed that the low speed, low impact collision caused the bulging disc to progress into a herniated disc.  The insurance company’s expert witness orthopedic surgeon opined that the MRI performed before the accident and the MRI performed after the accident were exactly the same and showed no new injury and that the rear-end collision caused my client to sustain only a minor strain, which should have cleared up within about six weeks.  All of the doctors agreed that the plaintiff was not a candidate for low back surgery because the disc was not causing any impingement on a nerve root.

After depositions of the doctors were taken and as the trial date was approaching, the case, which originated with a $750.00 offer from State Farm, was ultimately settled for my client for the amount of $50,000.00, which was the policy limits of State Farm’s insured driver.  In addition, I obtained additional settlements in my client’s two worker’s compensation claims totaling $28,626.00, for a total recovery in all of her claims in the amount of $78,626.00.

If you have been injured in a workers compensation or other accident and would like to speak with an experienced attorney, please call Thomas Gregory at Mogab & Hughes Attorneys at 314-241-4477.