From Lead Counsel: March 2019
The Great Thaw has begun in Chicago and we are beginning to see the sun on a more frequent basis. This generally helps put everyone in the office in a slightly better mood, in addition to the delicious Stan’s Donuts that were brought in by a generous soul today. Also adding to the high spirits of the firm, we added an additional law clerk to the team; Mary Liberty is joining us part-time in the spring and full-time this summer to help us with our upcoming trials. Mary is currently in her second year at Loyola and will be graduating law school in May 2020.
Our work for asbestos victims never stops, and we have seen a variety of new clients exposed in a multitude of different ways as we also continue to work hard on the cases we already have in house. Last week, I met with an insulator who was recently diagnosed with asbestosis. Our firm typically represents people with mesothelioma, a cancer caused by asbestos, but asbestosis can be just as terrible a disease. If and when asbestosis gets severe, it can impair one’s normal ability to function and can require an oxygen tank and eventually take one’s life. This particular client was exposed to asbestos in the 1970s when he worked at several steel mills and refineries. In addition to asbestosis, he also has pleural plaques — is scarring on the lungs from breathing in asbestos fibers that show up on X-Ray. Unfortunately, he is also at high risk for mesothelioma and will continue to be monitored by his doctors.
Last month, we also presented our occupational medicine doctor, Dr. Howard Kipen, for his deposition. Dr. Kipen often reviews our clients’ medical records in addition to the client’s deposition testimony and determine whether the asbestos exposure a client had was causative to their mesothelioma. Dr. Kipen has been practicing occupational medicine for quite some time now. He has been practicing so long that he actually worked directly with Dr. Selikoff, the first doctor in the United States to really raise awareness of the dangers of asbestos back in the 1960s. It was the work of Dr. Selikoff that eventually led to OSHA regulations regarding asbestos use and limiting how much a worker could be exposed while working. Attorney Michael Maienza covered that deposition at Rutgers University in Piscataway, NJ. Mike has been working with Dr. Kipen on several cases and always enjoys flexing his legal muscle on the East Coast.
Late last month, attorney Wyatt Berkover deposed a couple of experts in the Ron Bialas case. Mr. Bialas has mesothelioma from his time spent as a crane operator at Republic Steel. He was exposed to asbestos while removing ingot molds from hot tops in the mill. The hot top boards contained asbestos, and Wyatt is deposing the industrial hygienists that have been hired by the asbestos fiber supplier companies. Those experts will attempt to show that our client Ron could not have inhaled their asbestos fibers. This is a point of contention in the case, and taking the depositions assists the lawyers in evaluating the merits of the case while deciding whether to settle the case or take it to trial. Wyatt is an excellent attorney and no matter the outcome, he will definitely be prepared.
There’s so much action within the law firm that it has my head spinning at times, but there is no other work that could be more rewarding. We had the pleasure of reaching a settlement in excess of two million dollars for two cases in early February for families that lost loved ones to mesothelioma. One client was a boiler engineer and the other was a steel mill worker. The lives of Will DeBolt and Ulrich Huemmerich were lost to asbestos and it is a great honor to achieve justice for their passing.
Thanks again for tuning in to our newsletter and staying abreast with the day-to-day here at Vogelzang Law. If you are a student or a parent of a student, I would also encourage you to check out our academic scholarship application. Looking forward to reading all of the entries. Have a great month and I’ll see you here next time!