Despite the incredible endeavors of numerous companies to downplay the terrible health consequences of asbestos exposure, which had been ongoing for the better part of the last century, the truth eventually came to light in 1962, when a definitive correlation with cancer was established. Nowadays, people are increasingly aware of the health hazard exposure implies and the inhalation of asbestos fibers is notorious for causing a wide range of serious health issues, from pulmonary disease to gastrointestinal cancer.
Mesothelioma, a form of cancer which develops on the outer lining of the lungs, is by far the most aggressive diseases asbestos exposure can result in. After onset, it rapidly spreads to adjacent organs, taking a heavy toll on vital bodily functions, which is why most patients survive for only one year following diagnosis. Due to the long latency period it entails, mesothelioma occurs within 20 to 50 years after the first exposure to asbestos. While former industrial workers and Navy veterans constitute the majority of mesothelioma sufferers, this unmerciful disease has also been responsible for the death of several famous personalities hitherto, including Paul Gleason and Merlin Olsen.
The most recent celebrity whose life was claimed by mesothelioma is actor Ed Lauter, renowned for his iconic roles in movies such as The Longest Yard, Born on the Fourth of July, and Family Plot. He was diagnosed with pleural mesothelioma in May 2013 and, as cancer was considerably advanced, passed away five months later, at the age of 74. Shortly after Lauter’s regrettable death, his wife, Mia, along with their four children, decided to take legal action on his behalf. Accordingly, they filed a wrongful death lawsuit against more than 20 companies which might have been responsible for the actor’s exposure to asbestos, which was subsequently determined to have taken place between 1958 and 1979, while he was working at various film studios and movie sets in Los Angeles.
Since asbestos has excellent insulating and fireproofing properties, it was commonly present in the construction materials of movie sets during the last century, whose appearance would often be radically altered prior to shooting a new scene. Modifying and dismantling movie sets was bound to release asbestos fibers in the air, which people in close proximity would inadvertently inhale. Furthermore, exposure to asbestos from automotive components such as brakes and clutches is also believed to have contributed to Lauter’s mesothelioma. Therefore, the number of companies listed as defendants in the lawsuit initiated by his wife should not be surprising. Blockbuster LLC, John Crane, Union Carbide, Ford Motor Company, General Electric Company, and Honeywell International Inc. are only some of the companies held liable.
In honor of his work, Mia set up the Ed Lauter Foundation and a scholarship fund for aspiring actors. While asbestos is no longer a menace to those in the film and entertainment industries today, the risk of mesothelioma is, unfortunately, a legitimate concern for people who spent a significant period of time on movie and television sets before the 1980s. Consult with an experienced attorney such as the Asbestos Attorney Birmingham AL locals trust.
Thanks to authors at Environmental Litigation Group, P.C. for their insight into Asbestos and Wrongful Death.