Asbestos Class Action Settlement Reached for $80M Over Courthouse Renovations

The government of Jackson County, Kansas and a construction company have agreed to settle an asbestos exposure class action lawsuit for $80 million, which will include medical monitoring for anyone exposed to asbestos during the renovation of the local courthouse. 

The settlement was offered by Jackson County and U.S. Engineering before the start of a trial scheduled to begin in late October, which brought by two former Jackson County employees, according to a report by the Kansas City Star.

At issue are renovations that took place at the courthouse from 1983 to 1985, which involved asbestos removal. An estimated 7,500 class participants were exposed to asbestos during that period.

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Mesothelioma Lawsuits

Exposure to asbestos can cause the development of mesothelioma. Lawsuits have been filed nationwide against asbestos manufacturers.

The asbestos settlement affects employees, jurors, attorneys and prisoners who were at the courthouse for at least 80 hours total during the renovations, as well as those who were there for at least 80 hours after the work was done, from 1986 to 2007.

The first group will receive medical monitoring, which will include chest x-rays and blood screening, on an annual basis. The second group will receive the free screening once every five years. The settlement is expected to be finalized at the end of the year.

Asbestos is toxic even in small amounts, and has banned in many forms for decades, yet it is still in use in some industries. It is frequently used in automobile brake pads and clutches, vinyl tiles and roofing materials.

Exposure to asbestos fibers has been linked to a number of forms of respiratory illnesses and cancer, such as mesothelioma, lung cancer, and asbestosis.

Mesothelioma is a particularly life-threatening form of cancer that is often not diagnosed until decades after exposure to asbestos, due to the long latency period. Therefore, individuals face a long-term risk following asbestos exposure.

Even though most uses of asbestos were banned in the United States more than 30 years ago, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicated in 2009 that the number of asbestos deaths from mesothelioma was continuing to rise.

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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