Mesothelioma claimed the lives of nearly 3,000 people in the Golden State between 1999 and 2010, while asbestosis added more than 400 deaths in that time period. In addition to some of the largest naturally occurring asbestos deposits in the country, California has a history of significant exposure to asbestos through naval shipyards, an injustice that has plagued many of our nation’s heroic veterans.
For example, the Hunters Point Naval Shipyard in San Francisco was shut down in 1991 after the Environmental Protection Agency placed it on the “Superfund National Priorities List,” an agenda geared towards discontinuing or rehabilitating sites where hazardous chemicals, including asbestos, pose an excessive threat.
Sailors stationed at this shipyard who suffer from mesothelioma would have been exposed to asbestos decades earlier, however, as the disease embodies a lengthy latency period. The height of asbestos utilization at Hunters Point took place in the early 1940s, as was the case for many shipyards along the coast.
Exposure in such settings occurred through work with asbestos-containing insulation, gaskets, cables, cement, pipe fittings, and numerous other parts of naval ships and submarines. Similar risks were posed at the San Diego Naval Base, Alameda Naval Air Station, Concord Naval Weapons Station, and many other locations.
Table of Contents
Filing a Mesothelioma Claim in California
California has long been one of the leading jurisdictions for asbestos lawsuit filings, which include personal injury lawsuits, wrongful death lawsuits and asbestos trust fund claims. This state’s laws are generally considered favorable for asbestos lawsuits, leading to yearly increases in new in-state and out-of-state claimants filing.
In response, California courts have taken measures to manage large asbestos caseloads and expedite claims. For example, “fast-track” scheduling allows mesothelioma cases to go to trial within 120 days. Some California judges encourage parties to resolve cases quickly through settlement.
The statute of limitations in California sets a deadline for filing personal injury and wrongful death lawsuits. A California qualified mesothelioma attorney can determine how these deadlines apply to your specific mesothelioma case. An attorney can help you file a claim for compensation in California or another state.
You should not rely on any information herein to make a determination about your legal rights. Please speak to an attorney licensed to practice law in your area to best understand your legal options.
Unfortunately, other areas contaminated with asbestos on the EPA’s superfund list in California still stand as a potential hazard to the public, including the South Bay Asbestos Area in Santa Clara County. According to the EPA, this 550-acre location served as an asbestos dumping ground for a manufacturing plant for nearly three decades during the mid to late 1990s. Consequently, airborne exposure to asbestos fibers that enter the atmosphere after being disturbed by truck traffic and other activity stands as a potential risk for people who live in and around the site, located specifically at the southern tip of San Francisco Bay.
Asbestos exposure also occurred at the California Zonolite facility in Glendale. Zonolite, the commercial name for vermiculite collected at the infamous Libby, Montana mine, was acquired by the W.R. Grace Company in 1963.
Vermiculite is a mineral that often contains asbestos, ultimately posing a significant health threat to the employees of W.R. Grace & Company, as well as citizens who lived in close proximity to the 2.75-acre facility.
The California Zonolite location alone received more than 120,000 tons of asbestos-containing vermiculite from Libby, according to the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry.
Asbestos Exposure in California Among Highest in US
California ranks No. 1 in the U.S. for mesothelioma and asbestosis deaths. It has the most naturally occurring asbestos of any state in the country. California also led the nation in shipyard asbestos exposure during World War II and beyond.
During the peak of U.S. asbestos use, many mines and processing plants developed around California’s countless asbestos deposits. Most of these locations closed down in the 1990s or early 2000s.
Many veterans have been exposed to asbestos in California shipyards and military bases. Veterans who develop asbestos-related diseases such as mesothelioma may file a VA claim for benefits and have access to VA health care throughout California.
Mesothelioma lawyers have helped people in California get compensation for many types of asbestos exposure. Most cases are based on occupational asbestos exposure or exposure that happened when veterans served in the armed forces.
The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, the largest municipal utility in the country serving 4.1 million residents of Southern California, paid $60 million in punitive damages to the wife of one of its employees who was diagnosed with mesothelioma through the laundering of her husband’s work clothing.
His work on asbestos-containing products at LADWP power plants ultimately soiled his uniform with hazardous asbestos particles, particles that his wife breathed in when she performed the laundry. This secondary exposure constitutes a fate that has been met by many who handle the clothing of a loved one who works in the asbestos trade.
The LADWP employee manipulated asbestos particles through the cutting of pipes, but asbestos was also found in the power plants’ generators and electrical wires. The $60 million paid by LADWP in 2010 was thirty percent of the total $200 million received by the victim, as LADWP was found by the jury to be thirty percent liable for her mesothelioma.
California Industries Known for Asbestos Exposure
- Power Generation
Former construction workers, shipyard workers and veterans are particularly at risk. Children and spouses may also be able to file a lawsuit if they develop mesothelioma because of secondary asbestos exposure.
Companies that sell dangerous consumer products have been held liable for mesothelioma claims. Recent cases involve asbestos-contaminated talcum powder
Nuclear power plants of the Pacific Gas and Electric Company also contained asbestos in much of their insulation materials, including those that were used to wrap high-heat equipment such as pipes, generators, and electrical wires.
As a result, workers who installed, repaired, and/or remove this equipment were exposed to asbestos. Several classes of workers have filed lawsuits against PG&E, including pipefitters, insulators, welders, and electricians.
A lawsuit brought against PG&E in 1998 even involved numerous residents of Pittsburg, CA who were not employed by the company, but were exposed to asbestos after pipes at a PG&E location were not properly secured to a boiler, ultimately contaminating homes and boats in the area.
California mesothelioma lawyers at LK have extensive expertise and experience in investigating complex asbestos exposure histories and representing CA asbestos disease victims in court.
California worksites where asbestos exposure was common to include:
- Bethlehem Steel Shipyard, San Francisco
- Fibreboard Paper Products, Southgate
- Fibreboard Paper Products, Redwood City
- Frank & Enderle Co., Los Angeles
- La Habra Stucco Co., Los Angeles
- Silver Line Brake Lining Corp., Santa Clara
- American Bitumals and Asphalt Co., Oakland
- Krasne & Co., Los Angeles
- Riverside Cement, Crestmore
- California Portland Cement, Colton
- Raybestos Manhattan, Fullerton
- Marvin Corp., Montebello
- Republic Powdered Metals, Gilroy
- W. Henry, Huntington Park
- Shell Oil Refinery, Martinez
- Treasure Island Naval Station San Diego
- Consolidated Gas and Electric Company
- Los Angeles General Hospital
- Los Angeles Gas and Electric
- Los Angeles Lighting Company
- Los Angeles Water Works
- West Valley Construction Company
- Industrial Waste Processing, Fresno
- Purity Oil Sales, Inc., Fresno
- Barstow Marine Corps Logistics Base
- Travis Air Force Base, Fairfield
- Santa Monica Electric Company
- American Ceramics Products, Inc., Santa Monica
- American Consumers Industries, Oakland
- Ashland Chemical Company, Oakland
Mesothelioma Law Firms Practicing in California
Lawyers at a national mesothelioma law firm like Weitz & Luxenberg or Simmons Hanly Conroy specialize in asbestos litigation and have offices in California. These mesothelioma attorneys understand federal asbestos regulations and California state statutes.
Nationwide Mesothelioma Law Firms
- Weitz & Luxenberg
- Cooney & Conway
- Simmons Hanly Conroy
- Nemeroff Law
- Galiher DeRobertis & Waxman
California residents with asbestos-related diseases should choose a nationwide asbestos law firm because they have the experience and reach that local law firms can’t match.
Firms that practice nationwide have the knowledge and resources necessary to take on large corporations that acted negligently in exposing you or a loved one to asbestos.
Most nationwide mesothelioma law firms have office locations in California. For example, Weitz & Luxemburg has an office in Los Angeles. Cooney & Conway has several offices in central and Southern California, including Pasadena and San Diego.
Additionally, Simmons Hanly Conroy has offices in San Francisco and El Segundo, California.
A benefit of choosing a nationwide firm is that they will come to you if you don’t happen to live near an office. They travel to their clients regularly to conduct depositions and they won’t charge you for such travel expenses.
Asbestos Verdicts Awarded to California Workers
These verdicts represent some of the highest compensation awarded at trial, but most mesothelioma lawsuits are settled out of court. Law firms specializing in asbestos cases are known to secure mesothelioma settlements worth over a million dollars for clients.
- $43 Million in 2022: Weitz & Luxenburg secured $43 million for a mesothelioma patient in Los Angeles after a jury found Algoma Hardwoods, Inc. responsible for asbestos exposure.
- $11 Million in 2018: A Los Angeles jury decided in favor of Alfred Mata and his wife in a lawsuit against Liberty Utilities Corp. Mata developed mesothelioma from secondary asbestos exposure. His father had worked with Liberty’s asbestos-containing pipes and brought toxic dust home on his clothes.
- $18 Million in 2016: Philip Depoian won a mesothelioma lawsuit against talc supplier Whittaker, Clark & Daniels. The company sold the asbestos-contaminated talcum powder products used at the barbershop where Depoian’s father worked.
- $13 Million in 2015: Colgate-Palmolive and four other companies were ordered to pay damages to Judith Winkel and her husband. Winkel developed mesothelioma because of asbestos contamination in Cashmere Bouquet talcum powder.
- $48 Million in 2012: The Los Angeles Superior Court awarded damages to the family of Bobbie Izell. He had been exposed to asbestos in construction products while working as a contractor. Major defendants in the mesothelioma lawsuit included CalPortland, Riverside Cement and Union Carbide.
- $208 Million in 2010: Rhoda Evans won a mesothelioma lawsuit based on secondary exposure. Her husband worked with asbestos cement pipes made by CertainTeed Corporation.
- $17 million in 2008: Dennis Woodard and his wife filed a lawsuit against several manufacturers that sold asbestos-containing products to the U.S. Navy. Woodard developed mesothelioma because of exposure he suffered as a machinist’s mate and electrician’s mate.
- $11 Million in 2006: Asbestos Corporation Limited was ordered to pay damages to Joseph Garza and his wife. Garza used the company’s products to repair ship boilers at the Hunters Point Naval Shipyard and other shipyards. The asbestos in the products caused Garza to develop asbestosis.
- $33 Million in 2002: A San Francisco jury decided in favor of Alfred Todak, a former shipyard worker. He developed mesothelioma from exposure to several asbestos-containing products.
These law firms are also known to secure six-figure payouts from asbestos trust funds.
Certain jurisdictions in California require plaintiffs to disclose trust fund claims when they file a lawsuit. An experienced California mesothelioma lawyer can offer guidance on what trust funds a patient may be eligible for.
California Asbestos Laws and Regulations
Title 8 of the California Code of Regulations requires employers to take specific steps to ensure proper air quality and document all levels of potential exposure. Title 8 also governs registration and certification of asbestos contractors and consultants.
Title 8 Regulations Governing Asbestos in California
- 8 CCR §1529: Regulates asbestos in construction
- 8 CCR §5208: Regulates asbestos in general industry
- 8 CCR §8358: Regulates asbestos in shipyards
- 8 CCR §341.15: Regulates certification of asbestos consultants and site-surveillance technicians
A mix of federal and state laws govern California asbestos claims. Over the past few decades, California has enacted new laws, regulations, safety standards and programs aimed at reducing exposure.
State Departments Overseeing California’s Asbestos Laws
A number of state agencies uphold California’s laws and regulations concerning asbestos use, abatement, exposure and injuries. These include:
- Department of Public Health
- Department of Industrial Relations
- Division of Occupational Safety and Health
- Cal/OSHA’s Asbestos and Carcinogen Unit
- California Environmental Protection Agency
- Air Resources Board
Anyone who needs to remove asbestos from a building in California should contact a Cal/OSHA-Certified Asbestos Consultant. These consultants are the only professionals in the state who are qualified to advise on asbestos abatement.
California Laws Affecting Asbestos Lawsuits
A California mesothelioma attorney with a nationwide firm has the background to explain how California’s laws affect your case.
- California Code of Civil Procedure Sections 312-366: Outlines statutes of limitations in California
- California Civil Code Section 1714: Defines California’s negligence laws
Experienced law firms can help secure the maximum value of your individual case in California. It’s in your best interest to hire a top mesothelioma attorney to represent you against the companies that caused you or your loved one to develop mesothelioma.
Asbestos & Mesothelioma FAQ
- How long does it take for exposure to asbestos to have an effect?Asbestos is an insidious substance because it can seem harmless for a while after exposure, but it is dangerous from the beginning. In many cases, the first serious symptoms of asbestos exposure like mesothelioma do not begin until 10 years after the first exposure.
Some people do not know they have fallen ill from asbestos exposure until 40 years later or even longer.
It is important to keep in regular contact with your primary care physician and report any health concerns, so the symptoms can be recorded soon after they begin.
- What happens if you touch asbestos?The primary danger from asbestos is not touching it, but rather inhaling asbestos down you’re your lungs. So, if you are handling asbestos in any way, or around it, when it becomes airborne, this is hazardous.
Asbestos is dangerous when the fibers get into your breathing zone, regardless of who or what is disturbing the asbestos.
- Can I live in a house or building with asbestos if it’s not disturbed?If asbestos is completely sealed off an undisturbed, then it likely will not pose a hazard. But if asbestos is disturbed in any way that creates dust or the release of airborne asbestos fibers, then it is dangerous.
If there is asbestos inside the walls of a building or a home, it may be recommended to leave the asbestos in place where it is sealed off and separated from the building occupants or residents.
Asbestos should only be removed from a building or homes through professional asbestos abatements where all precautions required by the EPA and OSHA are followed.
- Is mesothelioma curable if caught early?Although progress has been made for asbestos treatments that increase the number of years someone can live with mesothelioma, there is still no known cure.
Unfortunately, even if it is caught early, there is no way to completely cure it. The disease is considered terminal cancer. For this reason, anyone with mesothelioma should seek legal advice as quickly as possible to preserve any legal rights to compensation that they may have.
- Does chemotherapy work for mesothelioma? Chemotherapy can slow down the progression of mesothelioma and prolong survival, but it is not a cure.
Your doctor might recommend chemotherapy or another alternative, depending on your overall health.
- What is the survival rate of mesothelioma patients? Mesothelioma is a terminal and aggressive cancer. On average, patients live 12 to 21 months after a diagnosis. Multiple studies have concluded that there is only a 10% survival rate after 5 years of diagnosis.
Peritoneal mesothelioma (less common than pleural mesothelioma) has longer survival rates, with many patients now living five years or longer.
If you lost a loved one to mesothelioma, then you should still seek legal advice about filing a wrongful death claim.