Lung cancer can be caused by a variety of factors, most of which do not cause cancer until many years after exposure. Consequently, securing financial compensation for people who have been wrongfully exposed to these various cancer-causing agents is a complex legal process. Consumer Alert Now has the requisite knowledge and experience to successfully represent our clients nationwide.
What Is Lung Cancer?
Lung cancer is a devastating disease that can be potentially debilitating or fatal. It is characterized by the unchecked growth of abnormal and/or mutated cells in one or both of the lungs in the human body. As these abnormal and/or mutated cells grow, they form masses known as “tumors” which can interfere with the biological functions of the lungs (providing oxygenated blood to the human body). This oxygenated blood is necessary for all functions in the human body, and if disrupted may result in catastrophic health defects that can eventually lead to death.
Most forms of lung cancer are asymptomatic (meaning they do not have any symptoms) until they have metastasized (or spread) to other parts of the body. However, some people will exhibit symptoms even in the earlier stage, including:
- A cough that is persistent and may get worse over time
- Coughing up dark red sputum (phlegm and/or spit) as well as light or dark blood
- Persistent chest pain that worsens when coughing, laughing, and/or breathing deeply
- Hoarseness in the voice
- Loss of appetite and catastrophic weight loss
- Persistent shortness of breath
- Persistent fatigue or weakness
- Pulmonary (lung) infections like pneumonia and/or bronchitis that won’t go away or that keeps coming back
- Persistent wheezing when trying to breathe
In later stages of lung cancer, after it has metastasized to other parts of the body, the symptoms may include:
- Pain in the bones (particularly in the hips and/or back)
- Disruptions to the nervous system (headaches, numbness in the extremities, chronic dizziness, and/or seizures)
- Yellow eyes and skin (jaundice)
- Lumps in the skin, particularly above the collarbone and/or neck
These secondary symptoms are caused by the cancer attacking these other parts of the body, including the bones, nervous system, liver, and lymph nodes, respectively. A common condition that is a precursor to lung cancer is chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (also known as COPD), and if you develop this condition it is likely you will eventually develop lung cancer.
Environmental Causes of Lung Cancer
Any substance that mutates human cells and causes the abnormal growth that leads to cancer is known as a “carcinogen”. There are various carcinogens that are present in modern-day society, and there are various environmental causes of lung cancer, including exposure to:
- Tobacco smoke - This is the most commonly known carcinogen that causes lung cancer. It remains one of the leading causes of preventable death in the United States, and there have been substantial lawsuits against tobacco companies in the past for the sale of their products. This includes both primary inhalation of the tobacco smoke (by the actual smoker) and secondhand smoke (by someone near the actual smoker).
- Radon - This is the leading cause of lung cancer in non-smokers. Approximately 21,000 people will contract this form of lung cancer annually. It has a five (5) year survival rate of only fifteen percent (15%); this is an abysmal prognosis and demonstrates how serious this condition is. Radon is a radioactive gas that has been found in buildings in all fifty (50) states, usually due to improper construction techniques. It is very easy to purchase simple radon test kits to ensure that your home or workplace is free of radon.
- Asbestos - This is a highly toxic material that is present in insulation in many buildings. It is responsible for a variety of lung cancers that can cause lifelong adverse health effects in consumers. Asbestos is particularly dangerous when it is disturbed, releasing microscopic particles in the air that are then breathed in and cause extensive damage to the human lungs. This is a slow process, with the initial exposure happening decades prior to the development of the final lung cancer.
- Radiation exposure - This is another hazardous source of carcinogens that results in high rates of lung cancer in those exposed to it.
- Various other substances - There are other substances that are also frequent causes of lung cancer, including arsenic (used in the production of glassware, textiles, ceramics, and/or fireworks), diesel fumes, wood dust, silica (used in the production of electronics and/or semiconductors), vinyl chloride, bis(chloromethyl) ether, solvents like benzene and/or toluene, and various metals like aluminum, beryllium, and/or cadmium.
Exposure to any one of these substances, usually over a prolonged period of time, greatly increases the chances of you developing lung cancer. Most cases of lung cancer are the result of multiple exposures to smaller amounts of the carcinogen rather than a single, acute episode of a high amount.
It should be noted, furthermore, that many cases may have more than one root cause for lung cancer. For example, smoking was statistically much more common in the 1960s and 1970s, but so was unregulated exposure to asbestos. It is possible that one of these carcinogens is the primary cause (the asbestos, for example) and the other is the secondary cause (the tobacco smoke). In fact, if a person lived and/or worked around asbestos and was a smoker, then they are ten (10) to fifty (50) times more likely to develop any form of lung cancer.
Consequently, making a case as a plaintiff who has suffered from exposure to such carcinogens requires building a case that is comprehensive in nature. It requires going back, sometimes over a period of several decades, and establishing a chain of causality that begins with your gradual exposure and results in you developing lung cancer. This is complex, costly, and requires a breadth of experience and knowledge that Consumer Alert Now possesses.
Occupations with Higher Rates of Lung Cancer
There are various occupations that are more likely to be exposed to these carcinogens, including:
- Asbestos workers (construction, shipbuilding, military, manufacturing, etc)
- Aluminum production
- Masonry workers
- Metal workers (steel and iron foundry workers)
- Rubber production
- Industrial chemists
- Coal workers
- Glass production
- Ceramic production
- Truck driving
- Uranium miners
- Petroleum production
If you live near any centers for these various industries and/or have consumed their resultant products, you may have been exposed to dangerous levels of carcinogens. As a result, you may develop lung cancer and be entitled to some form of financial compensation.
Various carcinogens that may cause lung cancer are tracked and catalogued by the National Toxicology Program (NTP) and their Report on Carcinogens that is published every few years. The NTP is comprised of various national agencies, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), National Institutes of Health (NIH), and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Products With Asbestos
Asbestos is a particularly dangerous carcinogen that is present in a lot of products. It is a silicate mineral substance that has a fluffy, cotton candy-like consistency composed of thousands of fibers. These fibers are flexible and soft while also resistant to fire, electricity, chemical corrosion, and heat. This makes it a highly effective insulator and it can be combined with paper, cloth, plastic, and/or cement to make it even stronger.
Because it is fireproof and so durable, it was once considered to be a miracle material for manufacturing and construction. Consequently, it has been used in a wide variety of consumer products, including:
- Gaskets in stove doors
- Mats for stoves
- Certain kinds of paint
- Laboratory pads and/or gloves
- Connectors for furnace ducts
- Millboard and cement-sheets
- Some adhesive materials for caulking and/or spackling
- Various kinds of tiles for floors and ceilings (especially in commercial construction)
- Older household appliances that operated with heat (toasters, coffee pots, ovens, slow cookers, dryers, washing machines, heaters, etc)
- Handheld hair dryers and curling irons
- Crayons that contain talc
- Brakes and clutches used in automobile construction
Despite its useful properties, asbestos is highly toxic. Beginning in the 1970s, it was used far less in various products and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) banned it in 1989. However, this ruling was overturned in 1991 and its use continues today, though there are various restrictions in place.
Lung Cancer Caused by Asbestos Exposure
Consumer Alert Now has seen a wide variety of lung cancer cases that have been caused by exposure to asbestos. This has resulted in a number of mass torts that have entailed significant settlements and payouts for those who have been affected by exposure to this toxic substance.
Through medical research and various lawsuits over the years, it has been established that it is highly toxic to the human body and is linked to the development of several forms of lung cancer. If the asbestos fibers are inhaled, your body has no capability to expel them and they eventually embed themselves in the lung tissue and cause these cells to mutate into cancer. This is fairly common, with an estimated ten-thousand (10,000) patients in the United States dying annually from asbestos exposure.
As delineated in the Asbestos Hazard Emergency Response Act (also known as AHERA) of 1986, the United States government legally recognizes six (6) types of toxic asbestos:
- Chrysotile (white asbestos) - This is the most common form, and it is usually in the ceilings, roofs, walls, and floors of homes and businesses (especially before 1986). It is also used in automobile production for brake linings, boiler seals, and/or gaskets as well as insulation for ducts, pipes, and/or various appliances. In other words, it is everywhere.
- Amosite (brown asbestos) - This form of asbestos was most commonly used in pipe insulation and/or cement sheets as well as ceiling tiles, insulating board, and/or products with thermal insulation.
- Crocidolite (blue asbestos) - This was most commonly used as insulation in steam engines as well as plastic production, spray-on coatings, cement products, and/or pipe insulation.
- Anthophyllite (grey, white, or dull green in color) - This was used less commonly in construction materials and insulation products.
- Tremolite (white, grey, brown, green, or transparent in color) - This was not used commercially but is a contaminant in chrysotile asbestos.
- Actinolite - Identical to tremolite in appearance and contamination.
Under the AHERA, the federal government has granted the EPA the ability to fully regulate these six (6) types of asbestos. If you have consumed a product that contains one of these types of asbestos or feel that you have been exposed to the substance, then you should consult with a physician and/or liability attorney to see if you are eligible to join a mass tort..
Enacting the AHERA has significantly reduced consumption of asbestos in the United States, which peaked in the mid-1970s at over eight-hundred thousand (800,000) metric tons. Asbestos mines were in production in this country for over a century, but the last one closed in 2002.
However, because of the way asbestos exposure leads to gradual deterioration in the lung cells, the development of lung cancer frequently does not happen until twenty to thirty (20-30) years later. That means that even though the AHERA has drastically reduced this exposure, the peak consumption in the mid-1970s is just now affecting people and causing increases in various forms of lung cancer.
Asbestos Exposure Lawsuits
The connection between asbestos exposure and various lung cancers become known to the medical community as early as the 1930s. Unfortunately, there was a comprehensive cover-up by asbestos manufacturers of the dangers of exposure to their products. Because it was such a blockbuster material, resulting in record-breaking profits, it was in their financial best interests to consistently deny any adverse health effects despite the growing evidence to suggest otherwise.
Labor and trade unions were the primary groups that brought this cover-up to light in occupational cases, though this then spread to the investigation of exposure in consumers. In 1977, over six-thousand (6,000) pages of documents called the Sumner Simpson papers essentially blew the lid off the entire scandal and exposed the vile lengths that the asbestos manufacturers had gone to in order to deny the serious health repercussions of asbestos exposure. The Sumner Simpson papers also showed that the entire cover-up controversy dated back nearly fifty (50) years.
The discovery of these papers, and the widespread outrage, led to the passage of the AHERA as well as a drastic increase in asbestos exposure lawsuits. These lawsuits essentially allege that the asbestos manufacturers are criminally liable for continuing to manufacture, design, and/or sell these products while lying to consumers. Remember that asbestos products are still used, though it is highly regulated now and the general public knows about its toxicity.
As a result of all this information, there is a veritable explosion of asbestos exposure lawsuits. Suffering from lung cancer is extremely costly and debilitating, both in terms of the medical bills and the loss of ability to work and make a living. Suing for asbestos exposure will ensure that you receive a settlement that can cover these costs as well as offset your loss of income.
Because of the crippling nature of the exposure and the depths of deception that the asbestos manufacturers sank to, an average settlement for asbestos exposure is quite high. However, the exact amount will depend heavily on the specifics of your case: your age, the length of your exposure, and the extent of your sickness. As is the case with any lawsuit, the more documentation you have, the better. This allows our attorneys to craft a legal strategy that is customized for your particular situation and that has the highest chance of success for you.
The Amchem and Fibreboard Lawsuits
There are two defining class-action lawsuits in asbestos exposure:
- Georgine v. Amchem Products, Inc. - This lawsuit was resolved in 1994 in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. There was a huge number of plaintiffs nationwide who were suing the asbestos manufacturer known as Amchem Products, Inc. There was so many, in fact, that they had to be broken up into groups. The District Court ruled in favor of the plaintiffs.
- Esteban Ortiz v. Fibreboard Corp. - This was another class-action lawsuit in which over one hundred eighty-six thousand (186,000) personal injury claims regarding asbestos exposure were made against Fibreboard Corp., a producer of vinyl siding that is a subsidiary of Owens Corning. It was heard in the District Court in Texas and was ruled in favor of the plaintiffs as well.
Seeing as how both Amchem and Fibreboard had virtually unlimited legal resources, they appealed rulings at every level of the judicial system. That means that both of these landmark cases eventually went to the United States Supreme Court.
In both cases, the highest court in the land made important rulings that restructured how asbestos exposure lawsuits are undertaken. Much of this is highly technical and has to do particularly with class-action lawsuits that have huge numbers of plaintiffs, but in both cases, the Supreme Court made rulings that were a mixed bag for plaintiffs. They overturned substantial settlements that were offered in the lower courts, and they required that class-action lawsuits have varied legal representation for all the plaintiffs.
As a result of both of these lawsuits, however, most asbestos exposure lawsuits are not quite as large as the ones that occurred in the 1990s. The legal precedence set by these has allowed for a proliferation of smaller lawsuits, all of which can still have substantial settlements or payouts for the victims, all over the country and against a variety of defendants. Although the initial reactions to the Amchem and Fibreboard rulings were mixed, over the years it has changed the legal landscape to favor smaller lawsuits. This has become the primary engine of compensating victims of asbestos exposure.
Furthermore, because of the tremendously bad publicity that a company may endure due to an asbestos exposure lawsuit, and because the general public and press are so well educated on the dangers of asbestos in the modern era, it is likely that a lawsuit will quickly result in the defendant offering you an out-of-court settlement. This is seen as a quieter, quicker way to resolve the issue and to get you the financial compensation that you need and deserve. In these situations, it is best to be represented by an attorney who has considerable knowledge and experience in asbestos exposure lawsuits, as the laws and jurisprudence are complex.
The Statute of Limitations in Lung Cancer Mass Torts
These various lung cancer lawsuits against corporations are considered to be mass torts. That means that there is a statute of limitations (also known as a SOL) and any victim must generally act quickly to start their legal proceedings. These statutes of limitations generally give victims two (2) to five (5) years from their date of injury to file a lawsuit. However, in a few states, this is only one (1) year, including:
Furthermore, remember that the onset of lung cancer is delayed from the point in time that the victim was actually exposed to the carcinogen in question. This is especially true in asbestos cases, wherein the latency period is usually between twenty (20) to thirty (30) years and in some cases may even be up to forty (40) years.
Consequently, there was a highly influential asbestos case known as Borel v. Fibreboard Paper Products Corp. in 1973. In it, the ruling acknowledged that the delayed onset of developing cancer from asbestos exposure required different legal parameters in lung cancer mass torts. That led to the development of the “discovery rule”, meaning that the statute of limitations begins from the date of discovery of the lung cancer in the patient.
Because of the high level of liability that these various asbestos manufacturers were exposed to, many of these companies have bankrupted or closed down. Consequently, various courts have required that large compensation funds be set aside for victims to ensure that they can still be financially compensated. Because these compensation funds get slowly depleted over the years, it is important that you act quickly to ensure that you are entitled to the full value of your lung cancer settlement to be paid out by said compensation fund.
Find A Lung Cancer Attorney Near Me
If you have been exposed to any of these carcinogens, even decades ago, then you may fall victim to a form of lung cancer. In this case, you are likely entitled to a settlement from the product manufacturers and will need the expert legal representation of Consumer Alert Now on your side. We have successfully represented plaintiffs all over the United States, so contact our lung cancer attorney at 800-511-0747 to get started today.