Lipsitz, Ponterio & Comerford recently achieved a significant settlement for the family of a retired laborer who worked in the Coke Oven Division at Bethlehem Steel. Our client was 77 years old when he was diagnosed with Stage IV Lung Cancer. He brought suit against the companies that designed, sold, constructed and maintained the coke oven batteries at the Lackawanna plant.
From 1951 through 1993, our client held various jobs working on top of and alongside the coke oven batteries. He first worked as a coal sampler in the Metallurgical Department. This job required him to sample coal from each of the coke oven batteries. He then became a laborer in the Coke Oven Division cleaning up coke and coal spillage. As a laborer, he frequently worked as a lidman and as a door cleaner. As a lidman, he was required to stand directly on top of the coke ovens for extended periods of time in order to charge empty ovens with coal provided by the larry car. This work was extremely difficult and harsh because of the extreme heat and dense smoke caused by coke oven emissions leaking from the topside of the ovens. The lidman’s job was by far one of the most exposed jobs at the steel plant. Eventually, our client went to work in the heater gang where he cleaned and swept under the coke ovens. He also held the job of tar chaser. Throughout his almost forty-year career at Bethlehem Steel, our client was continuously exposed to large quantities of fumes, dust and vapors containing carcinogenic compounds, principally polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs).
Prior to his lung cancer diagnosis, our client was an active man and enjoyed playing golf. He also loved to cook and prepare group meals for people living in his retirement community. After a two-year battle with lung cancer, he died in March 2012, leaving behind a wife, three children and seven grandchildren.