In this podcast, Paul Kelley from Satterley & Kelley talks about mesothelioma cases from Florida Tile in Lawrenceburg, KY. He explains how materials and conditions at the tile company lead to mesothelioma cases.
John Maher: Hi, I’m John Maher, and I’m here today with Paul Kelley. Paul is a partner with the Kentucky personal injury law firm, Satterley & Kelley, which has over 30 years of collective experience in handling cases involving mesothelioma and asbestos exposure. Today, we’re talking about mesothelioma cases at Florida Tile in Lawrenceburg, Kentucky. Welcome, Paul.
Paul Kelley: Hi, John. How are you doing today?
John: Good, thanks. So, Paul, what is Florida Tile Incorporated?
Paul: So Florida Tile was a tile manufacturing facility. There’s actually several throughout the United States, but the one that we’re going to talk about today was located in Lawrenceburg, Kentucky, and it was opened at least back in the 1970s and I believe is still in operation today, and they made floor tile.
John: Okay. And how is Florida Tile related to asbestos and mesothelioma cancer cases?
Paul: Well, we have learned throughout the many years of our practice that Florida Tile utilized something called talc to make its tile. Talc is a product that contained asbestos, and the manner in which it was used in that facility, the tile makers, people that actually made it, the tile sorters and quite frankly a wide variety of employees were exposed to this asbestos containing talc, and subsequently several of them, several that we’ve represented and other folks that we’re aware of, have contracted mesothelioma. In most of those instances, if not all, the only known source of exposure was to asbestos containing talc that was utilized in the plant.
John: And is this the same type of talc that has been used in what we call talcum powder and things like that?
Paul: So, yes and no. It’s a little bit different. It is an industrial grade talc, and it’s something that has been found in the same type of settings that cosmetic talc has been mined. I guess I should back up a little bit. Talc is a naturally growing product. It is mined in various locations in the United States. It’s mined in various locations in China and Italy and Argentina and all throughout the world.
And so there are deposits, talc mines, that exclusively mine industrial grade talc, and there are mines that exclusively mine cosmetic grade talc, and then there’s mines that have both. And so this product is a little bit different. It doesn’t go through the same type of processing the cosmetic grade talc does, but essentially it’s the same type of product.
John: Okay. And how and when were employees at Florida Tile exposed to this talc that contained asbestos?
Paul: We believe, through the work that we performed, that people were being exposed to asbestos containing talc at Florida Tile at least beginning in the 1970s and probably continuing through the late ’90s and into the 2000s. The way the product worked is it came into the facility in rail cars, just open rail cars. Florida Tile’s plant is a giant facility. I won’t begin to estimate how large it is, but big enough for trucks and rail cars to drive through it.
And they would take the talc and they would pour it in the hoppers and the hoppers would be mixed with other materials to make floor tile. And then when the floor tile was made, then there would be people who sorted the tiles, packaged the tiles. Inevitably many would break, and so people had dust exposure in all kinds of different ways.
The people that collected the talc when the railroad cars were exposed. The people who tested the talc for impurities were exposed. The people who mixed the talc into the hoppers were exposed. The people that were around the people who mixed the talc into the hoppers were exposed. And then the tile sorters, warehouse workers, people that transported them out, people that dealt with the broken tiles, there was a number of ways that people were exposed to this product, and they used probably thousands of pounds of talc every day and millions of pounds over the course of a year.
John: Yeah, and I’m picturing them just dumping bags of this into hoppers and things like that and just the dust flying up into the air and it’s probably getting everywhere, so like you said, it wasn’t limited to even just the people who were doing that work, but anybody who was in that contained area.
Paul: Pretty much anyone who was in the contained area, and there’s even some possible contamination of the environment in the areas near the plant.
What Should You Do If You Worked for Florida Tile and You Have Lung Cancer, Asbestosis, or Mesothelioma?
John: So if you were an employee at Florida Tile during this period and you have lung cancer, asbestosis or mesothelioma, what should you do?
Paul: Well again, certainly you need to make sure that you’re getting your medical situation under control. Treatment is always the most important, and treatment is something that’s more important than anything. However, to the extent that someone is trying to determine how they were exposed and what they were exposed to and whether they have a cause of action, they should contact an attorney.
They should contact someone like us who’s had a lot of experience with cases out of this plant, lots of experience with asbestos, and try to figure out whether they worked there at the right time, whether they were exposed to the right things, how they did the jobs that they did and that sort of thing. And we happen to have a lot of experience with that plant. We’ve litigated two or three cases out of it over the years and pretty much have all of the time frames covered.
John: So can you sue Florida Tile directly for exposure to asbestos if you have one of these diseases?
Paul: If you worked at Florida Tile, the answer’s no. Under Kentucky law, people generally cannot sue their employers for work-related injuries. However, if it happens to be a spouse of someone who worked at Florida Tile or happens to be a child of someone who worked at Florida Tile and they contracted mesothelioma, then those people could file a case against Florida Tile directly.
Unfortunately, we have seen a number of asbestos cases over the course of the last 20 or 30 years where it wasn’t the worker who ultimately was diagnosed with the disease, but it was their spouse or their loved one. So in that instance, yes, Florida Tile could be sued, but if it’s for the employee themselves, no, they wouldn’t be able to file a suit against Florida Tile.
John: Is there anybody else or another company that could be potentially sued or gone after for the exposure?
Paul: Absolutely. Florida Tile didn’t make the talc. Florida Tile bought the talc from various suppliers. Those suppliers typically were the companies that mine the talc or arranged for the talc to be mined, and those companies can be pursued. In fact, we have had a lot of experience in pursuing those companies, both related to this plant, as well as related to other facilities throughout the state of Kentucky and the United States. And so if an employee of Florida Tile is exposed, they’re not left without a remedy. They’re not left without somebody to hold accountable for causing them this terrible disease.
John: And is there a statute of limitations on filing a case, perhaps against Florida Tile’s suppliers in that case?
Paul: Typically, it’s one year from the date of diagnosis. There’s a couple caveats to that rule, but typically speaking it’s a year from the date of diagnosis. Perhaps it can be extended if for some reason people didn’t know that they were exposed to asbestos over that period of time that they worked there.
But as a general rule, we like to tell everybody to move quickly, a year from the date that you’ve been diagnosed with this disease, let’s get it done and let’s not leave anything up to chance by a court or somebody else that thinks you should have filed your case sooner.
John: How long does it typically take to put that paperwork together? If somebody came to you at month 11 after they were diagnosed, would you still have time to get that paperwork in?
Paul: I could get that lawsuit filed within a couple of hours.
John: Yeah. All right. Well, that’s really great information, Paul. Thanks again for speaking with me today.
Paul: Thanks, John. I appreciate it.
John: And for more information about mesothelioma and asbestos exposure, visit the Law Firm of Satterley & Kelley at SatterleyLaw.com or call (800) 655-2117.