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Firefighters and city reach asbestos settlement

A group of more than 50 firefighters has dropped their multi-million dollar asbestos lawsuit after reaching a settlement with the city with whom they are employed. The settlement agreement will allow the firefighters to receive medical monitoring and care for the remainder of their lives, which will hopefully allow them to discover any negative effects of asbestos exposure as soon as possible.

The firefighters filed the asbestos suit against the city of Everett, Washington, following a 2007 training exercise that most likely exposed them to deadly asbestos fibers. During the training session, the firefighters reportedly went into old buildings that were scheduled to be demolished. Pretending the buildings were on fire, the firefighters used axes and chainsaws to cut and destroy the walls and surfaces. What they did not know is that the buildings most likely contained asbestos.

It does not appear that the firefighters wore any special equipment during their training exercise, and as a result, they were likely exposed to asbestos. Because mesothelioma can take several decades to develop, the effects of that exposure are not yet known.

Wanting to do everything possible to protect themselves from those potential effects, the firefighters asked the city to provide ongoing medical monitoring for them. When the city refused, the firefighters filed a $9 million lawsuit.

The threat of litigation was apparently the motivation the city needed to grant the firefighters' request. Now, all 50 firefighters will have access to medical testing for life. In return, they have dropped their lawsuit against the city.

Source: KOMOnews.com, "Everett firefighters win victory in asbestos lawsuit," Elizabeth Dinh, Dec. 26, 2011

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