Lawsuits Allege 3M Respirators Did Not Prevent Asbestos Exposure, Mesothelioma

The 3M Company faces at least seven lawsuits, including six wrongful death claims, alleging that respirators manufactured by the company failed to prevent workers at a Wisconsin door manufacturing plant from suffering mesothelioma and other injuries caused by exposure to asbestos.

Last month, U.S. District Judge William M. Conley scheduled trial to begin in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin on February 16, involving wrongful death lawsuits by the families of Richard Masephol, Urban Pecher and Roger Seehafer, as well as a product liability claim by Milton Boyer, who has been diagnosed with mesothelioma but still lives. Remaining wrongful death claims filed by the families of Valmore Prust, Sharon Heckel, and Rita Treutel will be scheduled at a later date.

Each of the claims involve workers at a Weyerhaeuser door manufacturing plant, which used asbestos as fireproofing insulation material for decades. All were provided with 3M’s 8710 respirator, which the lawsuits allege failed to provide adequate protection from asbestos exposure.

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Each of the former workers later developed mesothelioma, which is a rare and deadly form of cancer caused by asbestos exposure. 3M Company and Weyerhaeuser are named as defendants in the complaints.

The trial scheduled for early next year will be bifurcated into two phases, with the first phase involving determination of liability, with a second phase addressing specific causation, damages, and potential punitive damages that may be assessed to punish the defendants.

Asbestos has been used in a variety of manufacturing and building industries, but most uses in the United States were banned more than 30 years ago. However, asbestos may cause a variety of ailments, such as mesothelioma, that do not surface until decades after exposure.

In 2009, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicated that the number of asbestos deaths from mesothelioma were continuing to rise, but were expected to have peaked by now as more time passes since the substance was banned.

Asbestos exposure lawsuits have been one of the largest mass-torts in U.S. history, with more than 600,000 people having filed a case against more than 6,000 defendants after being diagnosed with mesothelioma or other related injuries that were allegedly caused by inhaling asbestos fibers.


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