June 12, 2012

Woman is indicted in removal of asbestos siding

Source:, April 19, 2012
Posted in: Rockhill Environmental Newsletter, June 2012

A North Grafton property owner has been indicted for allegedly paying two tenants to remove asbestos from her Springfield rental property.

Susan B. Nissenbaum, 59, was indicted April 12 by a Hampden County grand jury on three counts of violating the Massachusetts Clean Air Act for failure to file a notice of asbestos removal with the state’s Department of Environmental Protection. She is also charged with improper asbestos removal, and improper asbestos storage.

Ms. Nissenbaum allegedly paid the tenants to remove asbestos siding from the single-family rental property in Springfield in 2010. She allegedly failed to warn the tenants of the dangers associated with asbestos and did not ensure that they had proper protective equipment or training in removal procedures, according to authorities. After it was removed, the asbestos was stored in torn bags on the property. As a result, authorities allege that the tenants, their children, and others were exposed to asbestos.

The case is being prosecuted by the office of state Attorney General Martha Coakley.

“We allege that this defendant put her tenants at risk by having them unsafely remove asbestos from the property and failing to warn them of the dangers involved,” Ms. Coakley said yesterday in a news release.

Authorities allege that although Ms. Nissenbaum knew that the siding contained asbestos, she did not inform her tenants how asbestos needed to be handled and failed to ensure that they had the proper training or equipment to do so. Additionally, Ms. Nissenbaum allegedly failed to ensure that the tenants followed proper procedures to prevent asbestos fibers from being released into the air.

Ms. Nissenbaum allegedly failed to notify the DEP before beginning work on the project. In November 2010, after being contacted by a licensed asbestos contractor, state environmental officials inspected the site and found the alleged improper removal, storage and release of asbestos.

The state Department of Labor Standards requires that the removal of asbestos be performed by a licensed contractor, and state environmental regulations require that contractors must provide notification of when the removal will occur and follow standards for removal, storage, and disposal of the asbestos.

A Hampden County Grand Jury returned indictments against Nissenbaum on April 12, and she is scheduled to be arraigned in Hampden Superior Court at a later date.

Ms. Nissenbaum was barred from practicing law in Massachusetts in 2005. A phone listed for her is disconnected.…

January 11, 2012

Company sued over handling of asbestos in Gibbstown

Source:, January 9, 2012
By: Eileen Stilwell

The U.S. Department of Environmental Protection has filed a civil lawsuit against a Philadelphia contractor for improperly removing asbestos from a commercial building in Gibbstown.

The suit charges Lovett Contracting of Northeast Philadelphia with removing approximately 3,000 feet of asbestos insulation from above-ground piping and tossing it onto the ground of a commercial building slated for demolition between January and March of 2007.

Lovett failed to notify authorities before the removal, according to the lawsuit, so no inspector was on site at the time.

The company also failed to wet the insulation to reduce air pollution during the process and to store it in leak-proof containers, as required by law.

The suit charges Lovett with failing to even inspect the building for the presence of asbestos before beginning demolition.

These regulations apply to any commercial structure or residential building with more than four dwelling units.

Lovett was unavailable Monday for comment.

General Chemical, LLC, of Parsippany was leasing the building on North Rapauno Avenue at the time.

It hired Wade Salvage Inc. of Atco to decommission and demolish the structure.

Wade hired Lovett to handle the asbestos.

Neither Wade nor General Chemical were named defendants in the suit.

The violations were discovered in a routine inspection by the state in April 2007, according to court papers filed by Assistant U.S. Attorney Peter G. O’Malley.

If found guilty on all six counts, Lovett stands to face penalties of $32,500 per day on each count, plus legal fees incurred by the federal attorney.…

December 13, 2011

Jury awards $2 million to Falls man in suit filed over asbestos exposure

Source:, December 10, 2011
By: Patrick LaKamp

A jury this week awarded $2 million to a Niagara Falls man who filed an asbestos lawsuit a year ago in State Supreme Court.

Gerald Failing, 66, was diagnosed in December 2010 with peritoneal mesothelioma, a rare form of cancer caused by exposure to asbestos.

Under state law, Failing was entitled to an expedited trial date because of the nature of his illness, said Keith

R. Vona, an attorney at Lipsitz & Ponterio who, together with attorney Michael A. Ponterio, represented Failing during the two-week trial.

“This verdict is an excellent victory for Mr. Failing and workers like Mr. Failing who were not adequately protected in the workplace,” Vona said.

Retired State Supreme Court Justice John P. Lane, serving as a judicial hearing officer, presided at the trial.

In 1966 Failing began work in the compound department at Durez Plastics in North Tonawanda, a maker of industrial resins and molding compounds. While working in the compound department, Failing used raw asbestos fibers to make granulated plastic molding compounds, his lawyers said.

Hedman Resources Ltd., a Canadian asbestos mining company, supplied some of the raw asbestos that Failing poured and mixed at Durez.

The pouring and mixing led to airborne asbestos contamination, producing a visible dust in his work area, Vona said.

Hedman did not warn workers of the dangers, Vona said.

The jury in this case assigned 100 percent of the responsibility for damages to Hedman, finding that its actions were taken with reckless disregard for the safety of others, Vona said.

Failing worked at the company until 1978. He retired in 1990.…

November 22, 2011

Large Settlement Made in MO Asbestos Case

Read here about a $10 million settlement that has been made in a Missouri asbestos case.…

August 1, 2011

Asbestos lawsuit to be settled for $270,000

Read here about a city in Wisconsin that has agreed to pay $270,000 to settle an asbestos lawsuit.…

July 27, 2011

Dying worker awarded 47M from LILCO, Con Ed


A March 2003 article in the New York Daily News reported on a mesothelioma personal injury verdict/settlement regarding an ex-boilermaker who was awarded $47 million yesterday by a jury that blamed his lung cancer on years of working with asbestos.

Robert Croteau, 53, of Pottstown, Pa., was diagnosed with mesothelioma, a fatal lung cancer, in 2001, according to his attorneys, Michael Roberts, Jerry Kristal and Richard Meadow of Weitz & Luxenberg. Roberts said his client got cancer after being exposed to asbestos at Con Edison and Long Island Lighting Co. power plants while working for various contractors in the 1960s and 1970s.

The Manhattan Supreme Court jury deliberated for slightly more than two days, following a two-month-long trial, finding both companies negligent as well as reckless.

Representatives of the companies said they would appeal. The jury also found about 20 other companies partially responsible for Croteau’s plight.

Weitz & Luxenberg is a leading plaintiffs’ law firm that has represented people affected by mesothelioma for over 20 years. Men and women diagnosed with mesothelioma or lung cancer caused by asbestos exposure may be entitled to compensation from the companies responsible for their disease. If you would like a free consultation or more information about your legal options, please complete the form on this page, and a representative of our law firm will contact you as soon as possible.…

July 18, 2011

$2.5 million awarded in asbestos case verdict

Source:, July 15, 2011

A laboratory chemist exposed to dust containing asbestos won a$2.5 million verdict after a two-week trial, his lawyer said.

James Ginter was diagnosed with mesothelioma in March 2010. Keith R. Vona, an attorney at Lipsitz&Ponterio who represented Ginter, called the verdict “a great victory for workers exposed to asbestos-containing dust.”

Ginter worked at Durez Plastics, a North Tonawanda manufacturer of industrial resins and phenolic molding compounds. He worked with a ma-chine manufactured by Ford Motor Co. that required him to file and grind experimental asbestos-containing friction products ultimately used as brakes on automobiles.

Ford was the only defendant in the trial and the jury assigned 15 percent of the responsibility for damages to the auto company, according to the law firm. Other defendants settled before the trial in State Supreme Court.…

March 14, 2011

Metro removing asbestos from Farragut North, Union Station

Source:, March 9, 2011
By: Kytja Weir

Asbestos has been found during renovations of Metro’s Farragut North and Union Station stops, The Washington Examiner has learned.

Crews have been quietly working during off-hours to remove the cancer-causing flame retardant since last week, according to the transit agency. The remediation work is expected to last until mid-April. The material was found in the jointwork of ducts in mechanical rooms, under platforms and above suspended ceilings, Metro spokesman Steven Taubenkibel said Wednesday.

The agency said air monitoring conducted in the affected areas has shown that airborne fiber concentrations have been well below general industry standards since the work began. …

March 9, 2011

Win for Asbestos Insurers

Source:, May 18, 2007
By: Nathan Koppel

A ruling issued today in a New Jersey state court marked a win for insurers who challenged an asbestos “pre-packaged” bankruptcy.

The case, which concerns the 2003 bankruptcy of Congoleum Corporation, has been followed closely by combatants in the asbestos prepackaged arena. Some companies that have faced asbestos liability have tried to control their exposure by filing prepackaged bankruptcies, which are negotiated ahead of time, potentially allowing a company to reorganize in an expedited fashion.

Critics have argued that asbestos prepacks” let plaintiffs lawyers collect damages for dubious asbestos claims at the expense of insurers.

Congoleum was a manufacturer of flooring products, some of which once contained asbestos. From 1981 to 2002, over 70,000 claimants filed asbestos-related injury suits against the company, prompting the company to negotiate a prepackaged bankruptcy plan under which it later agreed to pay more than $465 million to resolve asbestos claims, the ruling said.

Congoleum’s insurers filed suit in New Jersey claiming Congoleum, as part of its prepackaged plan, agreed to pay claims that would not be paid in the tort system.

Judge Nicholas Stroumstos Jr. concluded that the prepackaged plan was the result of collusion between Congoleum’s former bankruptcy lawyers and lawyers representing asbestos claimants. The plan “contains no meaningful provisions to ferret out fraudulent claims,” he wrote.

We’re delighted by the decision, said John Gerstein, who represents one of the insurers. We think it will become a watershed decision, because it should lead to intensified scruitiny of asbestos prepacks in the future. Lawyers who negotiated the plan were not immediately available for comment.…

December 23, 2010

Asbestos Level Underestimated

A claim for an at-risk construction management firm arose during extensive renovation and abatement at a school.  The construction manager hired a firm to estimate the levels of asbestos in school.  The claimant alleged that the level of asbestos was grossly underestimated resulting in an additional $13 million during construction to abate asbestos. 

This is a claim scenario developed from a single claim or several claims and has been developed for illustrative purposes only.