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Can people exposed to asbestos sue before they become ill?

In most instances of mesothelioma and other asbestos related diseases, the cases are only brought to court once the person who was allegedly exposed is diagnosed. Affected Minnesota workers and their families are left to suffer through the disease due to signs of the illness only appearing much later. A large scale lawsuit in another state may impact the precedent for asbestos related cases if the claims are substantiated.

A county courthouse underwent major renovation projects in 1983 and 1984 to remove asbestos insulation that was installed in 1954. During that era, asbestos was the standard method of insulation. The same company was contracted to remove the insulation when it was later discovered that asbestos was dangerous and could cause medical issues. Employees who worked in the building during the renovation claim the workers did not take any precautions when removing the asbestos. Allegedly, the dust particles circulated through the air vents and covered everything as the workers hauled away the pipes and other asbestos-containing items from the building.

Two formers workers for the courthouse attempted to file a class-action lawsuit on behalf of all the people who could have been exposed to the asbestos over the last 30 years. An appeals reinstated the case after it was previously denied class-action status in a lower court. The plaintiffs are suing for free medical testing for the rest of their lives, as a preventative measure, because of the exposure. When asbestos fibers are inhaled, they bury deep into the lung tissue and cause tumors to form, but the symptoms may not manifest for many years.

The sum of $40 million for the workers who were in the courthouse as well as other people who spent extensive periods of time in the building. Similarly, victims of asbestos exposure in Minnesota and their families can attempt to seek justice through the legal system against the parties deemed to have been negligent for their illnesses. In successfully presented claims, the plaintiffs may be entitled to a monetary judgment for their pain and suffering, accrued and future medical costs and any other financial relief awarded by the court.

Source:, "Asbestos lawsuit over Jackson County Courthouse seeks millions", Mike Hendricks, March 28, 2015

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