Asbestos-caused Cancer Blindsides Family
Christian F. Hagn, Jr. from Chicago wishes he had known more about asbestos before he abruptly lost his 66-year-old father, Christian A. Hagn, Sr. (1938-2004), to mesothelioma.
“My dad got exposed on the job. I hope I wasn’t exposed, too,” said Christian, Jr. “Companies know that asbestos is killing people, but they keep it on the low. My dad had no protection. They told him it was just dust. Just clean your face, wash your clothes in the laundry, and everything will be fine. It was cheaper for them to lie.”
Mesothelioma is an aggressive form of cancer most commonly found in the lining of the lungs, and it is caused by exposure to asbestos fibers. The most common way people are exposed is in the workplace. Electricians, plumbers, pipefitters, insulators, boilermakers, bricklayers, ironworkers, and mechanics are at risk. Jobs like mining and mixing raw asbestos into a wide range of products releases deadly clouds of asbestos fibers. The result of prolonged exposure often goes unnoticed for many years until it becomes fatal.
Christian Sr. worked for 22 years as a skilled pipefitter for Union Local 597, using his craft at a number of US companies. Born in the mountainous Bavarian region of Germany, Christian Sr. followed his dream to live in the US and eventually immigrated in 1957. Christian Sr. found work in various refineries, factories and plants in the US where he was exposed to asbestos. While much of his exposure occurred during the 1960s and 1970s, he did not experience any symptoms of the disease until over 30 years later.
“I remember that day very clearly,” remembers Christian Jr. “I thought I was taking my dad to the doctor to treat a cold. To my surprise, the doctor walked into the room and asked my father if he had worked with asbestos before, and he said yes.”
On October 30, 2004, a doctor diagnosed Christian’s father with mesothelioma: “Based on what we see wrapped around your lungs, you have six months.” Christian Sr. responded: “Six months for what?” “Six months to live,” said the doctor. “You have mesothelioma.”
Christian Sr. passed away one hour before Christmas Eve on Dec. 23, 2004, less than two months after receiving the diagnosis. The funeral service was held a few days after Christmas Day. Instead of celebrating the holidays with his father, he was mourning his loss. This is the day that changed Christian’s life forever.
“My dad passed away before my son turned three. He barely knew his grandfather. He barely remembers his image, and that hurts because you are never going to get your loved one back.”
Christian was devastated after losing his father to mesothelioma. He said: “I didn’t even know how to spell mesothelioma or even what type of cancer this was prior to the loss.” He found hope again when he met with attorney Nicholas Vogelzang from Vogelzang Law.
“He showed me how to get the justice I deserve. The reality is you will never get your family back, but you can get the companies that took them away to pay. If it wasn’t for Nick caring, these companies would have gotten away,” said Christian.
With the money Christian received from the settlement, he invested in real estate and soon began giving back to other families. “You have to save the money and be smart,” he said. “I got into real estate and I used the money to help others. I bought homes as investment properties for other families to help them and their kids to go to better schools.”
Even though Christian lost his father to mesothelioma, he remains hopeful and in peace. “Thanks to Nick and his law firm, I can say that if you are smart with your money you get from the settlement, you can set it aside for future generations and college tuition, which is what I did for my son,” said Christian. “I was a son of a victim and it amazes me how some people are afraid to pursue and go after these companies for compensation.”
After speaking with other pipefitters, Christian shared that many people are also afraid to sue because they think they are going to hurt the union and affect their pensions, which is not the case. “Companies that made or work with asbestos have to pay something. Otherwise, it would have been a total loss – not only a family member loss but also a financial loss,” said Christian.
Christian is dedicated to spreading awareness about asbestos and mesothelioma in order to help others.“I found an asbestos tile when I was doing a house restoration one day and I told the contractor to stop working and to get out. The contractor did an asbestos test and sure enough, it came out positive. Asbestos had to be professionally removed and it still exists today, but people are not aware and it is very deadly,” he said. “I want to speak to other families who are going through the same experience. I try to do the right thing in life. I recommend Nick and I appreciate all the help and the excellent job he did. I can’t thank him enough.”
If you or someone you know is going through mesothelioma and wants to get in contact with Christian, visit Vogelzang Law’s Contact Page.
Nicholas Vogelzang, Lead Counsel, of Vogelzang Law has represented more than 200 families with every imaginable type of asbestos exposure throughout the country, resulting in more than 200 million in settlements and verdicts. He is committed to helping families fight and get the justice they deserve. There is no cost to file.