In many instances, when people are seeking justice following a malignant mesothelioma loss, they are pursuing the asbestos companies that provided the materials that were contaminated by the carcinogenic material. But there are just as many cases in which employees or their survivors pursue workers’ compensation claims against their former employers. The Workers’ Compensation Court of Montana recently decided a three-year-old case filed by widow Hazel Atchley against her late husband’s former employer, Louisiana Pacific Corporation, seeking compensation for the loss that occurred after Edward Atchley had worked for that company’s lumber mill as a security guard.
The workers’ compensation claim that Mrs. Atchley filed against Louisiana Pacific acknowledged that her late husband’s mesothelioma had followed numerous exposures to asbestos. He had worked in the Navy from 1951 to 1955 onboard a ship that contained the hazardous material, then moved to Libby, Montana, an area notorious for its asbestos exposure and the many illnesses that afflicted those who lived there. He even worked at the W.R. Grace vermiculite mine for a few weeks. But according to her claim, the majority of his exposure came while he worked as a security guard at the lumber mill owned by Louisiana Pacific that was located near the old mine, and which was both heavily contaminated and which exposed him to large amounts of asbestos dust. Mrs. Atchley’s claim set out to determine a few points of fact: whether her late husband had sustained an occupational disease; whether the Louisiana Pacific Corporation was responsible for that disease; whether his death had been cause by the occupational disease; and whether she was entitled to recover costs following her loss.
In assessing the mesothelioma claim, the workers’ compensation court determined that Edward Atchley had in fact suffered an occupational disease and that, under the last injurious exposure rule, Louisiana Pacific Corporation was responsible for it, despite the fact that he had suffered previous exposures. Based on physician testimony they decided that his occupational disease was responsible for his death, and that the widow was entitled to her benefits as his survivor.
There are many challenges faced by mesothelioma victims and their survivors. Fortunately, there are also many good people who are there to support them through the difficulties and provide them with the resources and assistance that they need. If you or someone you love has been affected by mesothelioma and you need help, contact the Patient Advocates at Mesothelioma.net today at 1-800-692-8608.