Ask VL: Attorney Wyatt Berkover Discusses Asbestos Litigation
When it comes to asbestos litigation, it is crucial to work with a firm that has extensive knowledge of the industry. Chicago’s Vogelzang Law is a boutique law firm dedicated to families and individuals facing a mesothelioma diagnosis. Attorney Wyatt Berkover sat down to discuss some of his proudest moments:
Q: What should more people know about asbestos and mesothelioma?
What a lot of people don’t know is that asbestos was never banned by the United States; it’s still perfectly legal to use in certain applications. OSHA put a semi-ban on asbestos, but by and large, companies could import and use asbestos in their products to this day. The reason why they don’t do that is because of the lawsuits that have been brought in the last 30 to 40 years. What everyone should know about asbestos and mesothelioma is that the only thing that causes mesothelioma is exposure to asbestos fibers. After initial exposure to the fibers, the disease usually takes between 30 and 40 years to manifest. What that also means is that individuals might have been exposed to asbestos throughout their life and still have no idea. When they are then diagnosed with mesothelioma, it is considered a signal tumor. This means that our team at Vogelzang Law can then track the individual’s asbestos exposure through their work and life history and hold companies accountable that way.
These companies have been held accountable for a very long time, and we continue to hold them accountable. Without people like our clients bringing the pressure and keeping that pressure up, they would feel free to do the same thing again with a different product or material.
Q: What are some unexpected places that individuals may have been exposed to asbestos in their lifetime?
Most people know that a lot of pipe covering from an older house or building will probably have asbestos in it. That’s actually what most people associate with asbestos; they think of pipe covering. However, asbestos was also put into all sorts of consumer products over the last 60 years. You might have electrical components that are made of plastic that have asbestos in them and no warning label. These may have been manufactured as late as the 80s. Old drum brakes also contained asbestos through the 80s. In the 1970s, we saw pipe covering that contained asbestos removed from the market, but brakes containing asbestos were still being manufactured and used into the 80s and 90s. It is always important for people to be able to have an idea of where there could be asbestos whenever they are working with products.
Q: What is one accomplishment that you’re proud of at Vogelzang Law?
All of my clients become like family. When someone welcomes you into their home and tells you every aspect of their life and every detail as best as they can remember it, you learn a lot about them. All of my clients are very special to me, and I miss those that have passed away very dearly. We had a wonderful experience last summer helping one of our clients who developed mesothelioma. She did not work directly with asbestos, but she washed her husband’s clothes. He worked as a pipefitter and plumber, and he would come home with his clothes very dusty. She would then take the clothes and shake them out before doing the laundry, and she was exposed to asbestos that way.
We see that situation with many of our clients. The husband works directly with asbestos and doesn’t develop mesothelioma, but their wives, doing the laundry back home, develop cancer. The trial we had this summer was one of those instances, and the woman we represented had really been through a lot in her life. She had really gone through the gamut of horrible things that could happen to her, and just when she was starting to feel really good and wonderful about life, she quickly learned that she had mesothelioma. So much was taken from her throughout her life, especially after cancer, and it was nice to give her a sense of closure. She really appreciated us being able to stand by her and be by her side while she went up against some really big companies that don’t necessarily like to fight fair. She handled the lawsuit with a lot of courage, and to be there with her was one of the highlights of both my career and my life.
Vogelzang Law is a boutique asbestos litigation law firm dedicated to representing victims of mesothelioma. Backed by Lead Counsel Nicholas Vogelzang’s nearly 20 years in asbestos litigation, we have the knowledge and resources required to pursue complicated cases with compassion and wholehearted advocacy. For more information, call 312-500-8650 or visit VogelzangLaw.com.