When Roger Hall was diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma in 2015, he knew exactly how he got the deadly asbestos-related disease. Hall had been a teacher at the Letcher County High School from 1976 through his retirement in 2003. He remembered when the old high school building was replaced with a newly constructed one in 1992, and that even after the new building was completed the teachers used the boiler room in the old building as their break and lunch room. That boiler had tested positive for asbestos in the late 1980s, and though the asbestos containing materials were removed from the boiler in 1990, the asbestos tiles on the floor were not removed until each one broke down and needed to be repaired individually. Many of them were still in place at the time of his retirement. As a result, he filed a workers’ compensation claim against the school board, which denied his claim as time barred based on the boiler’s removal in 1990. The Workers’ Compensation Board in Kentucky reversed the board’s decision and the Board of Education appealed. Now the Court of Appeals of Kentucky has upheld the decision of the Workers’ Compensation Board and said that Mr. Hall deserves his workers’ compensation benefits.
The issue of workers’ compensation can be particularly trick for people diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma because of the condition’s long latency period. In many parts of the country, workers’ compensation claims have shorter time limitations than personal injury claims do, and that means that workers diagnosed with diseases like mesothelioma have to prove that their last exposure to the carcinogenic material was as close to their retirement date as possible, even if their initial exposure was decades before they left their company. In Mr. Hall’s case, the issue was whether or not his exposure to asbestos ended in 1990 or whether it continued until the time of his retirement. The Court of Appeals agreed with the Workers’ Compensation Board and Mr. Hall that the presence of the asbestos tiles on the floor at the time of his retirement meant that his exposure continued until his retirement, and that the evidence supporting it was overwhelming.
Though it would seem that people and organizations should try to accommodate the needs of people diagnosed with mesothelioma, that is unfortunately not the case. If you are encountering roadblocks in your mesothelioma journey, the Patient Advocates at Mesothelioma.net can help. Contact us today at 1-800-692-8608 to learn more.