The New York State Workers’ Compensation Board once held that a deceased worker’s lung cancer could not be attributed to occupational exposure to asbestos unless the disease asbestosis was present in the lungs of the deceased worker. (Asbestosis is ordinarily defined as the scarring of the lung tissue secondary to exposure to asbestos dust.) Our client passed away from lung cancer, but did not have evidence of asbestosis. At the initial hearing level, the Administrative Law Judge ruled against the decedent’s widow and denied her benefits.
Upon appeal, a Board Panel of the Workers’ Compensation Board reversed the Administrative Law Judge. The Panel ruledthat the decedent’s widow was entitled to benefits even absent evidence of asbestosis.
In this case, there was sufficient evidence of actual asbestos fibers found in samples taken from the decedent’s lungs, together with testimony from a co-worker that the decedent was exposed to asbestos on the job. Qualified physicians also testified that exposure to asbestos can lead to lung cancer even in the absence of evidence of asbestosis itself. This is an enormous victory not only for the widow in this case, but for victims across the State of New York who have contracted lung cancer caused by occupational exposure to asbestos.