Mesothelioma Attorneys in Florida
Even though there are no natural asbestos deposits in Florida, the state has the second highest asbestos-related death rate in the country. That’s because the state’s flourishing businesses, from shipbuilding to nuclear power plants, have readily utilized this deadly material.
Mostly surrounded by water, Florida is the natural place to establish shipbuilding companies and naval bases. To support those industries and the growing population, construction companies, power plants and metal-works facilities emerged. But with no natural asbestos, the asbestos needed was imported. It has since been used in a variety of products from machinery insulation to protective clothing.
In addition, asbestos was also widely used in the NASA space program, located in the coastal city of Cape Canaveral. It was used as soldering bases and within the space shuttles tiles to resist intense heat, particularly during launches and landings. It was also widely used in the construction of homes and public buildings, as well as factories and repair shops. About 3,000 people in Florida died from exposure between the 1970s and 2001.
Asbestos is so dangerous because when it breaks it releases tiny fibers that people unknowingly inhale or ingest. These fibers scar the lining of the lungs, heart and abdomen, mutating cells and causing mesothelioma. Perhaps the most dangerous aspect is that mesothelioma mirrors less-serious conditions so many people ignore the symptoms, allowing it to progress.
Early Occupational Risks
Because emerging industries and new homes needed asbestos for insulation, Florida was home to five asbestos processing plants. There, workers not only created insulation but made adhesives, paper, ceiling tiles and brake pads using asbestos. These plants were located in Jacksonville, Boca Raton, Pompano Beach, St. Petersburg and Tampa. Between 1948 and 1993, truckers brought more than 110,000 tons of asbestos from Montana mines to these facilities, with a majority going to the Tampa area. In addition, asbestos was widely used in sugar refineries in Belle Glade and Clewiston.
Florida’s Shipyards and Power Plants
Florida’s geography makes it ideal for shipping industries. As a result, cities like Jacksonville, Tampa and Miami became major ports starting in the 1800s that featured piers, terminals and shipyards. In fact, Jacksonville is home to Florida Steel Corporation’s steel mill as well as Naval Station Mayport, home of the third largest naval fleet concentration in the United States. In Tampa and Miami, shipbuilding, boatbuilding and repair companies are commonplace along the waterways.
The state also has a number of power plants, both nuclear and electric, which are necessary to supply Florida’s growing population. Many of these facilities have widely used asbestos, sometimes without notifying their workers.
Unfortunately, this widespread use means that workers as well as residents are in danger of exposure. Older homes and buildings contain asbestos. The state is predisposed to hurricanes and tornadoes which make asbestos exposure an even more viable threat. To reduce this risk, the state oversees the removal of the material from buildings and its proper disposal in designated landfills.
Top cities at risk
Although asbestos was used throughout the state, the coastal regions and South Florida carry the highest risk of continued exposure. Tampa has 100 known asbestos sites, mainly due to the concentration of shipbuilding companies and asbestos-processing plants. However, Cape Canaveral holds significant risk, too. In fact, 87 deaths have occurred there due to asbestos exposure. In South Florida, there have been 300 asbestos-related deaths alone. This area includes Fort Lauderdale and Pompano Beach, which housed asbestos-utilizing construction companies and power plants.
Medical criteria for mesothelioma
Given that Florida has so many cases of asbestos exposure, the state tightened the medical criteria necessary to file a mesothelioma case. Following the 2005 passing of the Asbestos and Silica Compensation Fairness Act, claimants must meet certain criteria to file a claim.
Mesothelioma lawsuits in Florida
Patients with debilitating mesothelioma or another asbestos-related condition should start the process of a lawsuit quickly. The law permits patients to sue for contracting two conditions. For example, if a patient should develop asbestos and secure a settlement and then develop mesothelioma 30 years later, the responsible party can be sued again.
If you are considering filing a lawsuit, contact our skilled attorneys today at (800) 383-4861.