Frank Meyers, a retired 80 year-old engineer and navy veteran living with
his wife Mary Jo in San Diego, settled his mesothelioma claims two weeks
ago in Los Angeles. Faced with the debilitating effects of asbestos cancer
and mounting medical bills, the plaintiff mounted an aggressive lawsuit
against the companies that poisoned him.
"I'm very pleased with the way things turned out. It went exceptionally
well," said Mr. Meyers. "When I took the stand and they started
questioning me about my military service, I told them about the 'victory
ships' that the U.S. sent over to help Britain in World War II. Of
course those ships were built by Kaiser, and they were nicknamed 'Kaiser
coffins' by us servicemen. As soon as the lawyers for Kaiser-Gypsum
on the other side heard me say that, they hit the roof!" Mr. Meyers
said with a laugh. The defendants quickly settled the case before the
jury returned a verdict.
Lawyer Ron Eddins for the firm of Simon, Eddins & Greenstone, said
"This was yet another example of a hard-working American patriot
poisoned by the very people he served. We were told at the outset that
too much time had elapsed, and there was no way the companies who poisoned
him could be identified and held accountable. We did, and they were."
According to co-counsel Roger Worthington, "People think asbestos
cancer only happens to construction workers and mechanics. Mesothelioma
pays no attention to the color of your collar. Teachers, business executives,
and engineers are stricken just as easily as a machinist or brake mechanic."
Worthington continued: "This case was filed on March 16 and tried
seven months later. California law permits cancer claimants to obtain
speedy trial settings, which is sound public policy. Mesothelioma patients
need compensation urgently so that they can shop for the best medical
care available, which usually involves travel. California takes seriously
the needs of terminal claimants to obtain justice, but the downside is
that if the cancer takes the plaintiff's life before the trial concludes,
the decedent's estate is barred from compensation for the patient's
pain and suffering. Our state legislature has written a law that rewards
bad guys who kill, instead of simply injuring, the innocent."
Mr. Meyers joined the U.S. Navy in 1944, and his duties required him to
spend a portion of each day in the engine room. Repairs to ship equipment
insulated with asbestos created a dusty and dangerous working environment,
about which naval servicemen were never warned. As a civil engineer working
for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the U.S. Bureau of the Navy, the
District of Public Works in San Diego, and military bases in California,
Mr. Meyers was exposed to asbestos dust from joint compound and plaster
used on construction projects at which he was present.
Construction, office build-outs, and other interior work done by drywallers,
painters, and other tradesmen exposed the plaintiff to lethal levels of
airborne asbestos fibers. Joint compound used in drywall work contained
asbestos, and the process of mixing the dry powder with water, as well
as the sanding process after the compound had been applied, created asbestos
dust clouds that the plaintiff inhaled.
"Whether it's interior work on a home remodeling project or full-blown
new construction of a home or office building, drywall work exposed millions
of Americans to asbestos up through the late 1970's. This was a case
where the companies that knowingly poisoned a man were held responsible,"