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Archive for the ‘Mesothelioma’ Category

Portofino at Largo Fined for Improper Removal of Asbestos

Posted on: September 25th, 2015 by William Connelly

Portofino at Large Condominium Association, along with its parent company, Waterstone Capital Portofino at Large, LLC are both being fined for improperly removing asbestos and they are receiving almost $43,000 in county fines.

The Criminal Investigation Division of the EPA reached out to Pinellas’ Air Quality Division back in June of 2014 and there was a complaint about a few renovations that were being done at Portofino at Largo, which is also called Portofino at Indian Rocks Beach. The county’s Air Quality Division issued a series of inspections throughout the summer (two in June, three in July and one in August of 2014).

The investigations found that during the renovations of eight different condo units, Portofino was found to have “disturbed” asbestos improperly in 25,984 square feet of textured ceiling materials, 3,312 square feet of vinyl floor sheeting, 6,800 square feet of roof shingles, 2,250 square feet of drywall systems 460 square feet of exterior stucco, and in over 160 square feet of exterior paint. The Air Quality Division inspections also found that asbestos was in shelving, coating walls and floors. The hazardous material was seen scattered as debris on stairwells, landings, landscaped areas and parking lots.

Another finding was that friable asbestos had been stripped from the referenced facility without first being appropriately wetted, which is a county code regulation. While the 25,984 square feet of asbestos containing ceiling materials was being removed, there was not a trained on-site representative on location, according to the inspection reports. From this particular removal of asbestos, asbestos was found on the inside of condominium units, stairwells, landings, open back porches, parking lots and landscaped grassy areas.

Although there were numerous violations, it seems that the most hazardous violation was that asbestos was deposited into open-top-roll-off dumpster containers after it was first confined into bags that were not sealed all the way, as per the county regulation. After picking up the hazardous material, the dumpster containers were then transported to Angelo’s Recycled Materials and Pinellas County Solid Waste Disposal facilities. Because this shipment was never identified as having asbestos containing waste in it, it was put into the county incinerator, instead of being buried in the appropriate way.

It also appears that waste shipment records were never created, or at least they have not been located. This month, Pinellas County Commission approved a consent order, which both the Air Quality Division and the two respondents (Richard Waserstein of Waterstone Capital Portofino at Largo and Eli Dadon of Portofino at Largo Condo Association), have agreed to. The consent order says that $42,945 worth of fines need to be paid by the respondents to the Pinellas County Air Pollution Recovery Fund and will be paid in quarterly installments of $10,736, with the last payment being for one more dollar. These payments will start August 1, 2015.

The Joint Policy Committee of the Societies of Epidemiology have stated that prolonged inhalation of asbestos fibers can lead to a serious and often fatal illness, including lung cancer and mesothelioma.

Drug Used to Treat Lymphoma May Help to Kill Mesothelioma Cells

Posted on: March 9th, 2015 by William Connelly

There are some patients who suffer from mesothelioma who may be able to use the drug, Adcetris, which is currently being utilized to treat patients with large-cell lymphoma and Hodgkin’s disease. This new development comes from a recent identification of a protein called CD30 that is in a small percentage of mesothelioma cell lines. This makes it a possible treatment for mesothelioma, which is a cancer caused by exposure to asbestos. Adcetris was first found by cancer researchers at Case Western Reserve University, which is located in Cleveland. Adcetris is able to slow down the grown of mesothelioma cells that are confined in CD30. The main researcher of Adcetris, Dr. Afhsin Dowlati, told that this drug is, “Very, very active against these cells, and not active against the cells that did not express CD30.” Also, earlier this year, Molecular Cancer Therapeutics came out with a report that was entitled, “CD30 Is a Potential Therapeutic Target in Malignant Mesothelioma.”   lymphoma hodgkin's disease


Back in 2011, Adcetris was approved by the FDA under its accelerated approval program. The FDA received help in getting approval to use the drug for lymphoma treatment because of research that was conducted at the Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center, located in Miami.   CD30 works because of its interaction with smaller proteins and it acts like a regulator of apoptosis (also known as programmed cell death). Adcetris is an antibody-drug that has been designed to target CD30 and change how it reacts.     Being a prominent mesothelioma research facility, Case Western began by testing 83 mesothelioma tumor specimens and they discovered that in 13 of them, CD30 was present. All 13 samples were the epithelioid subtype, which comprise over half of mesothelioma cell lines. They targeted this cell line and had very good results. The two other subtypes of mesothelioma are biphasic and sarcomatoid.



All three types are completely different in terms of their cell structure, size and shape.   Dowlati said that, “This is just a small step in the right direction. We believe that more profound studies need to be done in the clinic where CD30 can be targeted.”   Even though Adcetris is only effective against the small percentage of cell lines in which it was tested, it showed how progressive research is when it comes to mesothelioma and how doctors are doing what they can to come up with new and innovative treatment options for patients who suffer from it. ”   All patients aren’t created equal. Mesothelioma isn’t all the same. You identify subtypes, and try to find what works for each one,” Dowlati said. “Different types can be treated in different ways. It’s a very old concept in medicine, but in oncology, it’s really just come to fruition in the last decade. Instead of the same drug for everyone, cancer treatment has to be personalized.”   Mesothelioma is a cancer of the mesothelial tissue and is a cancer that is associated with people who were exposed to asbestos.


An estimated 3,000 Americans are diagnosed with mesothelioma each year and is most commonly diagnosed in men. In addition, most patients who are diagnosed are over the age of 65. Mesothelioma has an incredibly long latency period, so people who were exposed to asbestos many years ago may only now be experiencing symptoms. Some patients only live for six months after receiving the diagnosis, but there are also some patients who have lived for five years or longer.   There is not an explanation that oncologists can give for why one drug will work so well for a patient, and not so well for another. The type of research that Case Western is doing it exactly what is needed to answer this question. Dowlati warns people that, “We don’t know if this drug will work in the clinic. Just because something works in the laboratory, doesn’t mean it will work in the clinic. A lot of questions still need to be answered.”   Even so, it is encouraging to see this type of research and find new hope for those who suffer from mesothelioma.

Can Mesothelioma Be Caused by a Hairdryer?

Posted on: February 5th, 2015 by William Connelly

In one of the latest issues of International Journal of Occupational and Environmental Health, there was a very scary report that showed a possible connection between regularly using a hairdryer with a higher risk of developing mesothelioma. Hair dryers were among the many household appliances that were made during the twentieth century that contained a substantial amount of asbestos. Asbestos was used in hairdryers because asbestos is incredibly resistant to heat and was very cheap to use in for household products.

When looking at the occupations that have a higher risk for developing mesothelioma, hairdressers are not usually among them. The professions that are the most at risk for developing mesothelioma include construction workers, shipyard workers, plumbers and electricians, since they often are at risk for inhaling asbestos fibers. However, the same reasons apply for making asbestos a good insulator and heat shield for hairdryers as it does for construction products, and hairdressers who worked around these products are also at risk for inhaling asbestos fibers.

There were a great deal of hairdryers from almost every manufacturer that contained asbestos years ago. When the hairdryers were new in the 1960s and 1970s, the heat shield that contained asbestos were not dangerous. The danger comes when the asbestos crumbles as it weakens, making it very possible for asbestos fibers to be blown out of the hairdryers. Inhaling those fibers can cause an asbestos-related disease, such as mesothelioma.

In order to help protect consumers from having this happen, the U.S. Consumer Product safety Commission issued a recall on hairdryers that contained asbestos in 1979. Nowadays, hairdryers are not made with asbestos, but there is still a risk for asbestos exposure from hairdryers that are imported from overseas. Prior to 1979, roughly one in five hairdryers used asbestos in their manufacturing, and there currently are no figures available for modern hairdryers since the manufacturers do not give information about how their products are insulated.

Even though the recall was issued for hairdryers containing asbestos, for many hairdressers and hairstylists, it was already too late. Since mesothelioma has a very long latency period, people who were exposed years ago may only now be starting to experience symptoms of the disease.

If consumers are still utilizing a hairdryer that is an older model and was made prior to 1979, they are most definitely at risk for asbestos exposure and developing mesothelioma. The asbestos insulation in those older dryers would most certainly have deteriorated, making it so the asbestos fibers can break off and then be inhaled.

Anyone who worked around hairdryers before they were recalled needs to be aware of the risk for developing mesothelioma and knowing what the early symptoms are. The symptoms of pleural mesothelioma are fatigue, shortness of breath, cough and chest pain. If you worked around or utilized a hairdryer that may have contained asbestos and are experiencing any of these symptoms, it is important that you contact a doctor right away.

Is Asbestos More Widespread Than We Thought?

Posted on: February 2nd, 2015 by William Connelly

Brenda Buck, a medical geologist at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, started to discover asbestos where it had never been before in 2011. She was studying the human health effects of mineral dusts at Nellis Dunes and was looking at how much natural arsenic was in the dust clouds that vehicles were kicking up when she noticed that there was something else in her samples too. She found palygorskite, which is a fibrous clay mineral that in some studies was found to be carcinogenic.

These discoveries of asbestos took place in Clark County, which is in southern Nevada, and they spread across the border into northwestern Arizona. This makes asbestos in these areas a lot more abundant than was earlier thought and these discoveries lead to questions about the health hazards that naturally occurring asbestos (NOA) can cause.
Buck contacted Francine Baumann, who is a cancer epidemiologist at the University of Hawaii Cancer Center and Baumann specializes in studying malignant mesothelioma cluster that have been caused by environmental exposures to fibrous minerals. This includes any needle-like fibers that are related to asbestos.

There are several different ways in which people can become exposure to mineral fibers, which include ingestion and inhalation. If the mineral fibers are inhaled, they can get lodged deep within the lung tissue and can then move to other organs in the body. This can cause an asbestos-related disease, such as mesothelioma.
In her studies, Baumann asked for Clark County and surrounding counties’ cancer data, and in her analysis she found that there were more women and young people who were suffering from mesothelioma than there should be for the general population.

It was surprising to find fibrous amphibole minerals (asbestos) in an environment that had never previously been known to produce asbestos. Before this discovery, there had only been five or six environments that were known to product asbestos and they were not in southern Nevada.

Brenda Buck, who is also the director of Environmental Soil Analysis Laboratory at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, now believes that this discovery means that other communities may also have the problem of being exposed to asbestos without even knowing it. She is also very concerned about how many asbestos-containing rocks they have found in Clark County. Many of those rocks are very close to schools and residential neighborhoods.

The reason that this has become a problem today is that these areas of asbestos-containing rocks are right in the way of a planned major highway construction project. The planned construction project would be building a new Boulder City Bypass. This construction project is stirring up debate over how much asbestos these rocks are putting into the air already and what starting a construction project on top of them would mean in terms of stirring up new dust. There is also great debate over the health hazards for the public and how or if this project should proceed.

Property Owners and Contractors Held Accountable for Improper Asbestos Removal

Posted on: January 5th, 2015 by William Connelly


Four years ago, a crew showed up at the former Utica Trim Automotive Plant in Shelby Township, MI to remove asbestos from the abandoned factory.  It was nighttime and extremely cold and the building did not have any heat, light or running water.  The crew wore disposable suits that were extremely thin.  They used 25-foot lifts in order to cut away asbestos insulation that had covered the pipes along the ceiling.  Debris was thrown to the floor and at the end of the day, the crew was covered in cancer-causing dust.


Now, four years later, the owner of the property, Indiana Metal LLC of suburban Chicago, has agreed to pay the state penalties that amount to $67,500.  Northern Boiler and Mechanical Contractors of Muskegon, a second company, has paid the state $30,000.  An investigation was launched by federal prosecutors and they have charged four men with criminal actions and one received some time in prison.


The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality and federal prosecutors have taken action against the contractors and the owners of the property since they violated the federal Clean Air Act when they removed asbestos improperly from the building before it was demolished.


Back in 2008, there were 3,400 asbestos-abatement notifications filed by contractors with the DEQ.  Last year, that number was doubled to 7,844 and this year it is at 14,572.  The number of violations with the DEQ has also risen.  In 2008, there were 53 violations letters sent to contractors and property owners and last year, there were 78 sent.


Since 2011, the amount of fines that the DEQ has obtained from contractors and property owners amounts to $424,000.  The DEQ and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency handle violations of the Clean Air Act and the federal prosecutors usually take care of any criminal cases.  There have been 11 men who were convicted or plead guilty to criminal charges since 2011 and five of them received a prison sentence.


Barbara McQuade, U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan said, “We want to make sure that people understand there are criminal consequences for failing to comply with environmental laws.  The harm from improperly abating asbestos is very serious.”


Asbestos is a material that was very often used in buildings because it has fire resistant properties, was cheap and was a great insulator.   In 1971, the EPA declared that asbestos was a hazardous pollutant.  It is now known that asbestos exposure can lead to serious illnesses, including lung disease and mesothelioma.


When the crew went to remove the asbestos from the Utica Trim plant, things went very wrong when the project manager, Brian Waite, tried to get the asbestos removed as fast as possible.  He gave his workers a quota and the crew was threatened with being fired and having their unemployment benefits opposed if they failed to comply.


Waite, along with the on-site supervisor, Daniel Clements, Jeffrey Walworth (an industrial hygienist) and another worker, Jose Ramos, all plead guilty to federal charges.  Waite received one year in prison and the other three received probation.

Unfortunately, it is too early to know if the crew who worked on removing asbestos from the Utica Trim plant will suffer any long-term health effects.  The latency period for mesothelioma or other asbestos-related illnesses is very long and can take up to 40-50 years before the symptoms are noticeable.


Even more unfortunate is the fact that property owners can avoid problems with asbestos abatement if they are careful when choosing their contractors.  Asbestos can be removed safely if the proper procedures are followed.  Property owners should make sure to check the license of the contractor and ask and check for references.   The workers should also be carefully monitored by a supervisor to ensure that the appropriate precautions are being taken.  Failure to comply with proper asbestos abatement procedures can lead to serious consequences.

A New Drug May Help Those Who Suffer From Mesothelioma

Posted on: December 9th, 2014 by William Connelly

Mesothelioma, a cancer caused by asbestos exposure, has many symptoms that people can suffer from.  Among the more common symptoms are shortness of breath, cough, fluid around the lung, fever, fatigue, weight loss and pain in the lower back or the side of the chest.  Mesothelioma patients who suffer from shortness of breath may soon be able to find relief, however, with a new anti-cancer drug, called nintedanib, which has been shown to relieve respiratory distress.

On October 15th of this year, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Ofev (nintedanib) to treat idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF), which is a condition in which the lungs become more scarred over time.  This condition affects approximately 100,000 Americans each year and has similarities to asbestosis.

Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals, Inc. has marketed the drug under the brand name, Ofev.  It is available in capsules that are now commercially available in the United States.  There are current mesothelioma clinical trials that are using nintedanib being conducted in Cleveland, Columbus, San Francisco and Pittsburgh, in addition to a few cities in other countries as well.

This is a phase II study that is looking to measure the safety and effectiveness of the drug when used in conjunction with a chemotherapy regimen of permetrexed and cisplatin.  This study is a random study that is double-blind and only a certain percentage of the patients also receive the chemotherapy.  This trial started in 2013 and should be completed in May of 2016.

This drug is not set out to be a cure for the diseases, but it slows the rate at which the lung function declines.  Nintedanib is a protein inhibitor that is able to block the multiple pathways that lead to the scaring of the lung tissue.  This problem is associated with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, mesothelioma and asbestosis.

During the three different clinical trials involving patients who suffer from IPF, 1,231 patients total, nintedanib was able to improve the amount of air most patients were able to exhale after they took a deep breath.

Mary Parks, M.D, the FDA Office of Evaluation Deputy Director, stated that Ofev approval, “Expands the available treatment options for patients with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, a serious, chronic problem.”  Shortness of breath and severe dry coughing are also both symptoms of pleural mesothelioma and are usually among the first symptoms that mesothelioma patients suffer with.  These symptoms are signs of a problem with the lungs’ lining and it also is a sign that there is scaring in the lungs.

In addition to the IPF and mesothelioma trials, nintedanib is also being researched to use on other solid tumors.  There are phase III trials being conducted that involve ovarian cancer, colorectal cancer and non-small cell lung cancer.  The phase II trials of the drug involve liver cancer, kidney cancer and mesothelioma.

Victims of mesothelioma may be able to find some relief from their shortness of breath if these trials prove that nintedanib is effective at helping to relieve their respiratory distress.

Mesothelioma Victims Center Creates Tip Sheet to Help Victims Get the Best Compensation

Posted on: April 15th, 2014 by William Connelly

Victims of mesothelioma are being urged by the Mesothelioma Victims Center to obtain the best possible representation to help them get the best possible compensation. The Mesothelioma Victims Center has found that there have been too many victims who have not received adequate compensation for their illness.  With over 20 years of experience and a proven track record of success,  Connelly and Vogelzang LLC has the resources and experience of a large firm, but dedicate themselves to mesothelioma victims and give them individualized and personal attention.

The Mesothelioma Victims Center’s tips contain a decade’s worth of their experience with helping diagnosed victims to get the best compensation available.  They are dedicated to helping victims and their families and in order to give them the most help possible, they want to help families make certain that they are hiring the most qualified mesothelioma attorney to ensure that they will receive the best compensation.

The first tip that they offer is to make sure that your attorney has at least 10 years’ experience with mesothelioma claims on a full-time basis and they also recommend that you ask for references from families that the attorney has represented within the past six months.  You want to make sure that your attorney is experienced and has clients who were happy with the outcome of their claim.

Another tip is to make sure that your mesothelioma lawyer is the same lawyer who will be with you through the entire mesothelioma compensation claim.   If you have to change attorneys at some point in the process, they do not know your case as well and you cannot be sure that you are getting an attorney who has you as their primary focus.

Victims of mesothelioma can rest easy when they obtain the representation of Connelly and Vogelzang LLC.  We have over 20 years of experience in representing clients who have been diagnosed with mesothelioma.  William Connelly or Nicholas Vogelzang will travel to your home anywhere in the United States for a free evaluation and consultation. They will answer any question you may have about the legal process and your attorney will be with you every step of the way. Their firm works exclusively to represent mesothelioma victims, so you can be sure their focus and attention is always on what is happening in this area of the law.

For more information about mesothelioma or the representation that we can provide to you, you can contact us by calling 312-466-1889 or visit us at

Mesothelioma: Questions to Ask Your Attorney

Posted on: December 6th, 2012 by William Connelly

If you’ve decided to take your mesothelioma case to court, congratulations. You’ve taken the first step in finding justice for yourself and your loved ones. Now that you’ve made the decision, you might be wondering what happens next.

Your next step should be to schedule a meeting with an accredited mesothelioma attorney. During this meeting, your attorney will have many questions for you, but bringing some of your own questions to the table could help you get a better idea of your attorney’s experience and of what you should expect during the legal process. During your first meeting with your attorney, you may want to ask these questions:

  • Can you tell me more about your experience handling cases like mine?
  • How many mesothelioma patients have you represented in court?
  • What costs can I expect, and when will I need to pay?
  • Will you be personally representing me? If not, who will?
  • How often can I expect to be updated concerning my case?
  • Why should yours be the firm to represent my case?


Putting yourself in the interviewer’s chair might seem a little strange at first, but finding the right lawyer is important when your health and your financial future hang in the balance. A reputable attorney has nothing to hide and will be happy to provide you with the information you need. If, during your meeting, your attorney refuses to answer your questions or rushes through them in an effort to end your meeting faster, consider this a red flag. This is the person who will be handling your mesothelioma case. If he or she can’t make time for you and can’t speak openly and honestly now, don’t expect that to change in the future.

If you’re looking for a firm that takes your questions and concerns seriously, contact an attorney at Connelly & Vogelzang today for a free consultation. Our attorneys have fought for the rights of mesothelioma victims for nearly 20 years, and advocating for the rights of asbestos victims is our main focus. We’re happy to answer your important questions. We take the time to learn about you and your case, even as you take the time to learn about us.

Mesothelioma Screening and Diagnosis

Posted on: December 6th, 2012 by William Connelly

If you’ve been exposed to asbestos or if you believe you’re at risk for developing mesothelioma, you may be wondering what screening options are available. The first step in any screening is a medical exam. Your general practitioner will check you for symptoms such as pain, trouble with breathing and fever, just to name a few. If your doctor believes you exhibit any of these symptoms, she may order additional tests to screen for mesothelioma. There are three basic types of test – imaging tests, fluid tests or tissue tests.

Tissue Tests. Tissue tests are usually outpatient procedures that are administered with the help of a local anesthetic. Doctors make a small incision in the chest and use a device called a thorascope to retrieve a small sample of tissue and send it to a lab. At the lab, the tissue sample undergoes a biopsy to determine if cancerous cells are present.

Fluid Tests. Fluid tests are very similar to tissue tests, but instead of sending a tissue sample in for a biopsy, doctors send a sample of fluid drained from the lungs. In the event that excess fluid is present in the lungs, doctors may opt to drain this fluid – not just for screening purposes, but also to ease the pain and discomfort of the patient.

Imaging Tests. Doctors use imaging tests to see what’s happening inside your body without the need for invasive surgery. To screen you for mesothelioma, your doctor may order X-rays,  PET scans, CAT scans or an MRI scan. The type of imaging test your doctor chooses will be determined by your symptoms, your health and the suspected location of tumors. The images will allow your doctor to tell if any cancerous growths are present.

Early detection is a key part of fighting a winning battle against mesothelioma, so if you or a loved one has been exposed to asbestos and is at risk for mesothelioma, contact your doctor today. He or she can screen for cancer using one or more of these tests, providing you with a quick and accurate diagnosis. If you’ve already been screened and want to know more about filing a claim based on your results, contact a lawyer at Connelly & Vogelzang today.

Nutrition for Mesothelioma Patients

Posted on: December 6th, 2012 by William Connelly

Nutrition plays an important role in everyday health, but for mesothelioma patients, proper nutrition is even more vital. Cancer patients who are undergoing treatment or who are simply seeking to alleviate symptoms have special nutritional needs. The more you know about these needs (and how to meet them), the stronger your body will be.

Protein. Protein is necessary for muscle maintenance and growth, and it’s one of the most essential nutrients for cancer patients. As their cancer progresses, many patients lose weight and muscle tone, which can lead to a weaker immune system, joint pain and muscle soreness and even a lack of mobility. Eating foods rich in protein or supplementing your diet with a daily protein shake can help your body retain muscle tone and strength.

Carbohydrates. Complex carbohydrates can help you fight fatigue and can give your body the energy it needs to heal itself. Complex carbs can be found in foods like fresh fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Unlike refined sugars (like those found in sugary beverages or sweets), naturally occurring complex carbohydrates provide your body with a steady stream of energy, not an energy rush followed by a crash. For this reason, they can be incredibly useful – not only for helping you heal, but also for getting you through the day.

Vitamins and Minerals. It’s essential for cancer patients to take a daily multivitamin, whether they’re currently receiving treatment or not. A diminished appetite and a lower absorbency rate means that cancer patients are less likely to get the vitamins and minerals they need from their daily food intake. Providing your body with the right vitamins and minerals can help you fight infections, maintain your energy levels and stay at a healthy weight.

If nutrition has never been a big part of your life and learning about hundreds of micronutrients and additives doesn’t sound very appealing, just remember one simple rule: choose whole foods. In other words, eat foods that come from forests and fields, not from factories. Unprocessed foods have a high nutritional content and fewer empty calories. Fresh fruit and vegetables, whole grains, lean meats like chicken and fish – all of these foods are rich in nutrients, and much more so than anything you’ll find in a box or a bag.

It may seem like a lot of work to keep an eye on your nutrition. After all, you have enough on your plate as it is. But if you’re battling mesothelioma or any form of cancer, your nutrition is extremely important. Take the time to make the right choices. You’ll see and feel the difference.