Were you exposed to asbestos during your employment at Weyerhaeuser Co.? If you have been diagnosed with mesothelioma, asbestosis, or another asbestos-related condition, you could be entitled to compensation. Keep reading to learn more.
Weyerhaeuser Company, a paper manufacturer, has been a regular defendant in mesothelioma and asbestos lawsuits for years. Claimants are former employees who allege that their asbestos-related health problems were caused by exposure to various asbestos-containing products that were made or distributed by Weyerhaeuser Company.
If you or someone you love was employed by Weyerhaeuser Company and has been diagnosed with an asbestos-related disease, it is important to know about how you may have been exposed to asbestos and how it could affect your health in the future. Major risk factors for getting mesothelioma after being exposed to asbestos at companies such as Weyerhaeuser Company include:
- Exposure history
- Exposure duration
- Whether the asbestos fibers were breathed or ingested
Paper Mill Workers and Asbestos Exposure
Most of the asbestos exposure at paper mills such as Weyerhaeuser Company occurred through equipment maintenance. Pulping, recovery, and boiler operations involve high heat, and asbestos was used to provide insulation for pipes and vessels. Maintenance workers often were in contact with them. The maintenance workers also were at higher risk because asbestos coated the mill machinery they had to inspect and repair.
But there were other Weyerhaeuser Company workers who were exposed to asbestos. The many materials used to construct paper mills, including industrial adhesives, ceiling and floor tiles and cement had high levels of asbestos. If any worker dealt with decaying materials, they may have inhaled asbestos fibers. Once the fibers are inhaled, some are expelled, but others lodge in the lungs and abdomen and stay there for years. They can cause scarring and inflammation that leads to mesothelioma.
Weyerhaeuser Company workers could also be exposed in the paper drying process where dryer felts were used to boost the production of high-speech paper machines. After the pulp would pass through the early chemical and mechanical processing stages, paper mill workers would put it on huge drying machines to remove moisture. Workers would shape the pulp into sheets and lay it on a screen under heat. Once it got stiff, the product would become paper.
During regular maintenance, asbestos dust would be emitted from the dryer felts in dryer machines. When the dryer felts needed to be replaced, workers deal with high levels of asbestos exposure as the hand-cut and fitted new felt into the machines.
Weyerhaeuser Paper Mill Was Aware Of Asbestos Dangers in Its Plants
Before the 1970s, asbestos was a popular material in construction, But as early as the early 20th century, there were well-understood dangers about asbestos exposure. By the 1960s, there was a firm link between asbestos and lung cancer.
Yet Weyerhaeuser and other similar companies continued to use asbestos in their mills. In a paper mill, cheap, effective asbestos was useful as a fire retardant, insulating, and protecting workers from heat caused by friction and chemical reactions.
Documents in court from the 1970s showed that Weyerhaeuser knew about the risks of asbestos but continued to use it without warning workers. In fact, Weyerhaeuser has had litigation related to the use of asbestos since the 1940s, as it used asbestos on company ships in sleeping quarters and engine rooms. (Bergmanlegal.com)
By 2002, the company had been named a defendant in more than 2,000 lawsuits involving asbestos. Still, the company continued to use asbestos without safety equipment as late as the late 70s.
Also, power boiler workers at the company handled bark, waste wood, and sludge from the firm’s effluent treatment system. In older paper mills, workers would take ash from the bottom of boilers and reseal them with asbestos and cement. This was a dangerous process that exposed mill workers to asbestos even further.
Family of 66-Year-Old Paper Mill Worker Gets $3.96 Million Award
A jury in Portland, Oregon in 2014 awarded $3.96 million to the family of a 66-year-old man who died from malignant mesothelioma in 2011. The trial showed that Robert Golik was exposed to asbestos when he was working as an insulation worker at paper mills run by Weyerhaeuser Company. (Waterskraus.com)
According to his attorney, the defendant did little to dispute evidence that when Golik was working at their facility in 1965, the dangers of working with asbestos were known and the defendant did nothing to warn or protect workers from hazards. Golik was just home from serving the US in the Army, he worked for months in paper mills in clouds of asbestos dust, one of the most dangerous types of asbestos there is. Golik had no idea that there were hidden risks to asbestos exposure. Nor did he know that the paper mill would fail to protect him which would lead to his death 30 years later.
The Portland jury awarded his family $91,000 in economic damages and $3.86 million in noneconomic damages, which were split between his wife and three children. The verdict was delivered in December 2014.
Unfortunately, pleural mesothelioma is always fatal and it is only caused by asbestos exposure at companies such as Weyerhaeuser Company. After the worker was diagnosed in 2011, his doctors recommended he undergo an extrapleural pneumonectomy, a painful and intrusive operation where the doctors remove the diseased lung and other tissue in the chest wall. But he died just a few days after the surgery at just 66.
Weyerhaeuser Company exposed thousands of paper mill workers to dangerous asbestos-containing products and failed to tell anyone for years. Although the company was aware of the dangers in the 1970s, they still used paper making equipping riddled with dangerous asbestos-containing materials. Employees at the company may have been heavily exposed to asbestos and put at risk of developing mesothelioma and asbestosis.
If you worked at the Weyerhaeuser Company and think you have mesothelioma, it is advised to talk to an experienced mesothelioma attorney. You may be entitled to compensation for your medical bills, lost earnings, and pain and suffering.