Asbestos, a fibrous crystalline material thought to cause respiratory problems, has been the subject of more expensive actions in U.S. civil courts than any other potentially harmful material. Although its use in manufacturing and building has long since come to an end, it is still discovered on occasion in older buildings across Louisiana.
Lawsuits regarding the harmful effects of asbestos have collectively become the longest-running and most expensive class of civil legal actions in United States history. Thousands of shipbuilders, refinery workers and contractors have fallen victim to asbestos-related illnesses in the last 50 years. But exposure did not stop in the workplace.
Many citizens and workers in Louisiana experienced health problems due to the use of asbestos in construction and insulation in the second half of the 20th century. In fact, asbestos-related illnesses have become the largest and most expensive class of lawsuits and other tort actions in U.S. history. But the problem persists, partially because of the complexity of these health problems.
During the numerous years that you worked around asbestos, you may or may not have known that it put your health, and your life, in jeopardy. Perhaps after a decade or two, you even forgot that your exposure could cause you medical issues.
Workers, families and children in Louisiana have faced many causes of lung cancer, from asbestos in insulation materials to toxic chemicals released by refineries along the Mississippi River. Two major challenges to health often related to lung cancer, asbestos and cigarettes, were subject to some of the largest collections of lawsuits in terms of time spent in court and money recovered from manufacturers.