If you attended the University of Southern California (USC) as a student or worked there as a teacher or faculty member, you may have been exposed to asbestos. Asbestos is a dangerous group of minerals that is connected to several types of cancer, including an aggressive and rare form of cancer known as mesothelioma.
If you are currently struggling with an illness or disease associated with asbestos exposure, your time at USC may be to blame. At Bailey & Glasser, LLP our team of mesothelioma and asbestos attorneys can investigate your case and help you file a lawsuit against USC for negligently exposing you to asbestos. Our lawyers believe that no one should enter a university and leave with a life-threatening illness.
About Asbestos and Mesothelioma
Asbestos was heavily relied upon for the manufacture of a variety of products in the late 1800s and 1900s. It was popular due to its natural ability to resist heat and corrosion, as well as its strength, flexibility, thermal properties and resistance to being broken down. It was also easily mined, abundant and low in cost. All of these factors culminated in an ingredient that was frequently used for building materials and consumer goods.
Unfortunately, asbestos can cause cancer and other serious health problems. It does this by getting lodged in a victim’s internal tissues if ingested or inhaled. If someone breathes in or swallows asbestos fibers, they can get stuck inside the victim’s body for many years. There is no way to remove asbestos particles once they are present. Over time (the average latency period is 20-60+ years), the particles can irritate the surrounding tissues enough and cause scarring and inflammation.
Tissue damage caused by asbestos particles can alter the victim’s DNA cells and develop cancer cells. This can lead to diseases such as malignant mesothelioma. Mesothelioma is terminal. The average life expectancy at the time of diagnosis is currently 12 to 21 months with treatment, according to the National Library of Medicine. However, each patient’s prognosis is unique. Asbestos can also cause lung and respiratory issues, such as asbestosis and lung cancer, as well as other types of cancer in different parts of the body.
Where Is Asbestos Found in Schools?
The building materials that often contain asbestos are typically those that require fireproofing, such as fire doors, furnaces and boilers. However, asbestos is also found in products and materials that benefited from its texture, flexibility and durability.
Asbestos inspections conducted in schools and universities have detected asbestos in the following products:
- Boiler coverings
- Ceiling sprays
- Ceiling tiles
- Cement and mortar
- Glues and adhesives
- HVAC equipment
- Joint compounds
- Lab benches
- Patching compounds
- Roof shingles
- Vinyl floor tiles
- Wall plasters
This is not a comprehensive list of every product or material that could contain asbestos on a school campus. It is the school’s responsibility to assess the risk that asbestos could pose to its students and staff members, as well as to take steps to contain or remove asbestos from the premises as needed.
Is Asbestos Present at USC?
The University of Southern California’s main campus in Los Angeles contains more than 330 buildings. USC also has campuses in Alhambra, Irvine, Catalina Island, Marina del Rey, Sacramento and Arlington, Virginia. Although the number of USC buildings known to contain asbestos and the names of these buildings have not been released to the public, the University has enacted asbestos health and safety policies for its campuses.
Asbestos has been found in thousands of schools, colleges and universities around the country. Any school building that was constructed prior to the 1990s is likely to contain asbestos in multiple places. Asbestos in building materials became regulated after the International Agency for Research on Cancer announced that all six types of asbestos could cause cancer in 1987. When the government banned asbestos, however, it allowed any product that had already been made to be used. This means asbestos building materials may have extended into the 1990s.
The most recent study of how many schools in the nation contain asbestos – shockingly, conducted almost 40 years ago – estimated that over 35,000 schools are likely to be contaminated. This means that more than 15 million students and almost 1.5 million teachers are at risk of asbestos exposure. This includes at the University of Southern California, which was founded in 1880. Many USC buildings that are still in use today were constructed in the 1800s and early 1900s. These older buildings are likely to contain asbestos.
The University of Southern California’s Asbestos Management Efforts
USC’s Environmental Health and Safety Policies only briefly address asbestos on campus. It mentions the school’s Asbestos Management Program, which is meant to “manage and control known and presumed asbestos-containing materials at the University to minimize exposure to airborne asbestos fibers.” The University also has an Injury and Illness Prevention Plan that mentions asbestos management specifically to prevent occupational exposure for employees. USC has not engaged in any major asbestos removal projects, however.
Compensation Available to Victims of Asbestos Exposure at USC
If you discover that you have mesothelioma or another serious illness connected to exposure to asbestos and spent any time at the University of Southern California as a student or staff member, you may be entitled to financial compensation.
A successful claim or lawsuit against USC could reimburse you for many losses, such as:
- Past and future medical costs
- Lost income
- Lost capacity to earn in the future
- Lost inheritance
- Diminished quality or enjoyment of life
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional and mental anguish
- Attorney’s fees and out-of-pocket costs
- Wrongful death damages, if applicable
You may be eligible for compensation through an insurance claim, individual lawsuit, workers’ compensation claim, asbestos trust fund claim or another source. Discuss your legal options with an attorney after potentially being exposed to asbestos at USC.
Contact an Asbestos Attorney for More Information
You don’t have to deal with a mesothelioma diagnosis or the ill effects of asbestos exposure from the University of Southern California alone. Contact Bailey & Glasser, LLP to speak to an attorney about a potential lawsuit. Our lawyers have been helping clients with asbestos and mesothelioma claims for many years. We can help you get through this difficult time. Call (866) 871-7971.