When Clarence Borel filed a law suit in Texas in 1969, he was the first person suffering from asbestosis and mesothelioma to place his case before a jury in the United States of America. The Borel case established the principal that manufacturers of asbestos-containing products have a duty to warn about the dangers of those products.
Shortly after the Borel case, the Occupational Safety & Health Administration began regulating exposure to asbestos, and in 1972 effectively outlawed the use of asbestos-containing insulation material in the construction industry.
In 1982 the Johns-Manville Corporation and related companies filed for bankruptcy reorganization. This move effectively took Johns-Manville out of the nationwide asbestos litigation and created additional pressure on other asbestos defendants. Including the Johns-Manville Corporation, about fifty companies have filed for bankruptcy protection during the last twenty years, claiming as a cause the anticipated costs of asbestos lawsuits. Of these companies, approximately fourteen have filed for bankruptcy within the past two years. These developments have prompted public discussion among the victims of asbestos disease, asbestos companies, and lawyers and judges over the appropriateness of pursuing claims for asbestos-related disease by individuals who are otherwise healthy and able to go about their normal daily routines. Lately, our courts have become less receptive to such cases.
Since many of the companies that had traditionally settled asbestos disease cases are now in bankruptcy, victims of asbestos induced lung cancer, mesothelioma and severe asbestosis must now identify new potentially responsible parties in order to achieve just compensation from the legal system. In light of these circumstances, we expect that our system will now give even more attention to workers suffering from lung cancer and mesothelioma.
The lawyers at Lipsitz, Ponterio & Comerford continue to devote time and energy to investigating the role played by local asbestos distribution companies such as Niagara Insulations, Inc., Frontier Insulation Contractors, Inc. and Insulation Distributors, Inc. in negligently exposing Western New York workers to asbestos dust. Since the manufacturers of asbestos-containing materials have now entered bankruptcy, we are focusing our investigation on the degree of knowledge that the local distributors had concerning the hazards of the products that they sold to worksites throughout Western New York.