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$3 million settlement in WV asbestos case

December 23rd, 2005

A judge in Kanawha County, West Virginia has OK’d a $3 million settlement intended to help workers at West Virginia University find the early signs of asbestos-related lung diseases, such as mesothelioma.

The lawsuit was filed five years ago by 5,600 current and former employees who claimed that campus buildings had left them exposed to high levels of asbestos.

This is the first such “medical monitoring” program to be implemented in West Virginia. Since 1999, workers and consumers in the state have been able to recover costs of such testing when exposure to toxic substances makes them likely to become ill.

The judge, Tod Kaufman, says, “This is somewhat of a historic agreement.”

WVU will provide money and staff for the program by late January, and the initial tests should start in April, according to terms of the settlement.

Current and former non-student employees who worked at least five years at WVU between 1986 and 2006 will be divided into groups to assess their exposure levels. The program was originally set for 40-year monitoring but was scaled back to 20. Even so, one observer, Dr. James Lockey of the University of Cincinnati medical school, described the arrangement as “responsible, fair and even progressive by today’s standards.”

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