Vogelzang Law is proud to announce that under the leadership of partner Michael Maienza and litigation attorney Christian Luciano Santiago, two asbestos cases involving lifelong boilermakers have reached a settlement in excess of $15.6 million. Michael Maienza was the lead attorney in Mr. A’s mesothelioma lawsuit, which was filed in August of 2022. Christian Luciano Santiago was the lead attorney in Mr. B’s mesothelioma lawsuit, which was filed in March of 2022.
“I couldn’t be prouder of our team. Mike and Christian led the charge and dedicated hundreds of hours to both cases, bringing closure and resolution to the families,” says firm founder and lead counsel Nicholas Vogelzang. “These settlements further prove how important it is for individuals to have a voice and fight against the manufacturers and companies that have left them out to dry. No amount of money can bring back what’s lost, but hopefully, the outcomes can begin the healing process.”
Our clients, Mr. A. and Mr. B., were members of Chicago Boilermakers Local 1 union, where they worked in both residential and commercial locations. Throughout their careers, our clients worked in locations including, but not limited to, refineries, commercial buildings, nuclear plants, power plants, steel mills, Chicago airports, powerhouses, and pumping stations. Our clients were exposed to asbestos as they worked on and around boilers, valves, pumps, gaskets, and packing that contained asbestos. Additional exposures occurred as they and other tradesmen tore off old asbestos insulation and refractory and from scraping off asbestos gaskets/packing from piping, machinery, and equipment. As dust billowed in the air, our clients inhaled asbestos particles, leading to mesothelioma.
“We approach each case as though it’s the only one we have. Our clients and their families deserve no less, and we are honored to take up their fight,” says Maienza. “These cases were a full team effort from all the other attorneys and staff. Because of the support, we had everything we needed to fight and advocate for our clients. I couldn’t be prouder of how it turned out and hope it gives the families a measure of peace to know those responsible are being held accountable.”
Mr. A., a native Chicagoan, started his apprenticeship in the 1970s, becoming a journeyman, working with numerous local unions across multiple states. In addition to the work above, he also did maintenance, repair, and installation work, usually during shutdowns and turnarounds. His daily duties involved tearing off old asbestos insulation and refractory, scraping asbestos off parts and machinery, and chipping out refractory cement and gunite from vessels, tanks, boilers, catalytic crackers, and various other machinery and equipment. At the end of each day, Mr. A. would clean up using an air hose, creating a cloud of visible dust that he breathed in and caked his clothing. In 2021, Mr. A. was diagnosed with malignant pleural mesothelioma.
Starting in the 1950s, Mr. B. worked in the boilermaker trade in both commercial and residential locations. A U.S. Army veteran, our client continued his trade after an honorable discharge. During his career as an employee and owner of a heating contracting company, his duties included plumbing, remodeling, demolition, heating, and insulation work on and around pumps, valves, insulated steam lines, boilers, gaskets, and packing. All of this work resulted in unmistakable dust clouds that he inhaled and clung to his clothing. Additionally, Mr. B was a career boilermaker who worked throughout his life in many industrial refineries, nuclear plants, and power plants. In 2022, Mr. B. was diagnosed with malignant pleural mesothelioma.
Both clients worked hands-on with asbestos-containing equipment and often worked in close proximity with various other tradesmen. The work performed by our clients and their co-workers created large visible dust clouds that they inhaled daily. The dust also covered their clothing and other possessions, intensifying their exposure.
“I’m incredibly proud to have had the opportunity to represent these boilermakers and their families. Each case was extremely complex and tough to litigate, but we would not have been able to get these results without the support of our paralegals, law clerks, administrative staff, and, more importantly, without the support and vote of confidence from our clients,” says Luciano. “To recover more than $15,600,000 for these gentlemen suffering from terminal cancer is definitely a career high for me that I will never forget.”
Vogelzang Law is privileged to work with unions across Chicagoland and the nation. The firm proudly represents union members from numerous trades and occupations. The final settlements are a testament to justice and righting a wrong for the firm’s clients and their families.