Colorado College and frat house to settle asbestos lawsuit

May 8th, 2006

A seven-year-old asbestos lawsuit filed against Colorado College will soon be settled. It claims that college officials were aware that the Phi Gamma Delta fraternity house had asbestos in the basement but failed to warn students about the dangers or to remove the toxic materials, which have been linked to a number of illnesses—especially mesothelioma.

The claims, first filed in 1999, allege fraud, breach of housing contract and violation of the Consumer Protection Act. Attorney Chris J. Melcher denied that Colorado College was at fault, but court documents indicate that the school knew of asbestos in the building.

In fact, a 1984 consultant report showed an awareness of the presence of asbestos but refuted any responsibility since the basement door was locked and the students had no access. Although none of the students have yet to develop any mesothelioma symptoms, they claim that a fear of mesothelioma symptoms is interfering with their ability to live normally.

Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral that has been used since antiquity, although its value as a fire-retardant and insulator grew in the early 20th century. The first documented death from asbestos exposure was in 1924, and the first asbestos lawsuit was filed in 1966. Mesothelioma, which is caused by asbestos exposure, affects the lining of the lungs, heart and abdominal cavity.

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