Oregon Hospital Slapped with Asbestos Lawsuit

Five construction workers claim that an Oregon hospital and a Utah-based contractor negligently exposed them to asbestos during work at the hospital, prompting them to file a lawsuit against both parties for what they’re calling a “deceitful and irresponsible oversight.”

According to an article in The Register-Guard, the exposure occurred during demolition and remodeling jobs at McKenzie-Willamette Hospital in Springfield, Oregon. It was caused by the improper handling of asbestos during projects taking place on the 2nd floor and in the basement of the facility.

In the lawsuit, the plaintiffs claim that both McKenzie-Willamette and Utah-based Layton Construction Co. violated the federal Employer Liability Law and the Oregon Safe Employment Act. They seek up to $10 million in damages, the article notes, and will remain in fear of the fact that they may someday develop an asbestos-related disease such as mesothelioma.

Two of the men involved in the lawsuit worked for an electrical subcontractor employed during renovations and the remaining three worked for a sheet metal contractor doing work at the site.

Previously, state occupational health and safety regulators fined both the hospital and construction company more than $25,000 for the negligent exposure during the incident. Inspectors determined that the hospital should have known that there was asbestos in the sealant and tape used in the duct work in the hospital’s HVAC system and the plaintiffs say they were exposed to hazardous dust from those asbestos-containing items.

The lawsuit also states that the men were unaware that asbestos was present, so they “handled the demolition material as if it did not contain asbestos — allowing dust to be freely spread through the work area as well as throughout public areas of the hospital,” putting many others at risk for asbestos exposure as well.

McKenzie-Willamette was fined for a total of seven violations, including failure to inform custodians, housekeepers, operating staff and other employees working near the construction zone about the presence of asbestos.

Layton, a large national contractor, was fined for five different violations including failing to inform subcontractors about the asbestos in the second-­floor work area and failing to inform subcontractors of asbestos in the basement within 24 hours of discovering it there.

The fines have already been paid and neither defendant contested the accusations of wrongdoing.

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