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Merchant Mariners at Risk of Mesothelioma – Even 50 Years after Asbestos Exposure

Merchant Mariners around the world have a lifetime risk of developing mesothelioma as a result of service on ships. Merchant mariners and Navy veterans exposed to asbestos 20, 30, 40 and even 50 years ago or more can be diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma – a fatal cancer that is caused by asbestos exposure which causes cell damage. Merchant mariners in the U.S. and Europe were heavily exposed to asbestos on merchant ships. A former UK merchant marine and asbestos handler is proof that symptoms can take many decades to appear. The mariner was diagnosed with mesothelioma 50 years after being exposed to asbestos.

Working in Clouds of White Asbestos Dust Meant Nothing at the Time

According to the Stroud News & Journal, Gordon Bennett served in the Merchant Navy for four years after leaving school in 1950 and did two years’ National Service in the Army. He then worked as a laborer at a company called Fibrecrete in Chalford Hill from 1958 to 1962. The company produced asbestos gutters, drainpipes, sheeting and other products. The combined exposures as a merchant mariner and laborer caused his mesothelioma.

Although Bennett had not been exposed to asbestos since 1962, he began having difficulty breathing and saw a doctor in April of 2013. He was diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma and passed away in October of the same year. A coroner determined that he died from the cancer as a result of asbestos exposure.

Merchant Marine Seamen Have Increased Risk of Cancer

Merchant marine seamen in the United States and around the world have an increased risk of developing mesothelioma because asbestos was widely used in the equipment of maritime and naval ships, cargo ships, tankers and freighters. It was used as insulation on boilers, equipment, and in gaskets and packings used in pump valves and machinery.

As in Bennett’s case, the onset of mesothelioma takes decades. Many Navy veterans and merchant seamen may not notice symptoms of asbestos-related disease until 20 years or longer after duty on a ship.

A study published in the Journal of Industrial Medicine by researchers at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York analyzed 3,300 chest x-rays of U.S. merchant marine seamen. The researchers found that a third of them showed abnormalities in the lining of the lung – where mesothelioma typically develops from asbestos exposure.

If you served as a merchant marine seaman and have recently been diagnosed with mesothelioma, you have a legal right to seek compensation from the asbestos manufacturers that caused your disease in the form of medical expenses, lost income, rehabilitation, pain and suffering or loss of consortium.

It is widely recognized that manufacturers knew about the dangers of asbestos, but failed to warn workers of its danger. As a merchant mariner, you also have the special right to seek compensation from the owners of the ship on which you served. That right is based on a special maritime law called the Jones Act. It gives merchant mariners the right to sue ship owners and imposes strict duties on ship owners.
Contact an experienced mesothelioma lawyer today to discuss your legal options. You may be entitled to compensation for your injuries.

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Last Modified: January 2, 2019

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