By John Cooper, Virginia Beach Wrongful Death Lawyer

Mesothelioma is a rare type of cancer, although it’s not so rare with employees in certain industries such as shipyard workers and railroad workers.

That’s because this form of lung cancer is associated with asbestos, a material widely used before its deadly side effects were fully understood.

According to the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance, a body dedicated to serving mesothelioma victims and their families, mesothelioma occurs in the thin layer of cells lining the body’s internal organs, known as the mesothelium.

 ”There are three recognized types of mesothelioma. Pleural mesothelioma is the most common form of the disease, accounting for roughly 70% of cases, and occurs in the lining of the lung known as the pleura. Peritoneal mesothelioma occurs in the lining of the abdominal cavity, known as the peritoneum and pericardial mesothelioma originates in the pericardium, which lines the heart,” the alliance states.

 The prognosis for victims of mesothelioma is grim, although survival rates are better if it is caught in the early stages. Although asbestos was widely used in industry and in homes in insulation and other products half a century ago, it continues to be a problem, a potential health hazard and a cause of lawsuits today.

See this film from 1959 that touted the commercial uses of asbestos.


In the railroad industry large amounts of asbestos was used on steam locomotives in the mid 20th century. Lawsuits are still brought against big railroad operators such as CSX and Norfolk Southern. Lawsuits can be brought under the FELA (Federal Employers Liability Act) legislation.

Virginia (VA) has a number of industries in which asbestos has posed a potential hazard to workers. Virginia Vermiculite, LLC in Louisa County in western Virginia, for instance, operates an open pit vermiculite mine. This mineral often forms alongside asbestos which poses a serious risk of contamination.

In 2000, a study carried out by the Mine Safety and Health Administration found evidence of asbestos in 30 air samples and 12 rock samples from Virginia Vermiculite.

Closer to Hampton Roads, a 2011 contamination incident at Surry Power station exposed at least 12 contractors to airborne asbestos fibers. The workers were covered in white dust from a damaged pipe. A label warning of the asbestos danger was hidden.

Newport News Shipbuilding has been the subject of a number of lawsuits. In March 2011, a jury awarded a former worker $25 million in a lawsuit against Exxon after he developed Mesothelioma.

Asbestos has also been found in aging housing complexes. Asbestos flooring in a poor condition, for instance, was found in flooring at the Harbor Square complex in Hampton, VA, the Daily Press reported.

Where asbestos s sealed it is less dangerous than when it is in a friable state when it becomes airborne and particles can lodge in the lungs. At Harbor Square some of the floor material was found to be crumbling, making this a potential health hazard.

As experienced Norfolk, VA based wrongful death attorneys, we are concerned about any situation in which the acts or the failure to act of a mine, power station, shipyard, railroad or apartment complex owner, allows people to unwittingly be exposed to asbestos.

Typically asbestos related diseases may take years or even decades to set in, meaning asbestos can be a ticking time bomb to those unfortunate enough to be exposed to it.


The Virginia Beach personal injury law firm, Cooper Hurley, handles car, truck, and motorcycle injuries as well as brain injury, wrongful death, railroad workers’ injuries (FELA) mesothelioma and medical malpractice cases.

John Cooper grew up and was educated in Virginia Beach and handles many cases from the city. John Cooper and his partner Jim Hurley have more than 40 years of combined experience in handling personal injury claims.

John Cooper has been named to Virginia “Super Lawyers” since 2010 and has been a member since 2011 of the Multimillion dollar Advocates Roundtable. Cooper Hurley represents people hurt in accidents in Virginia Beach, Norfolk, Portsmouth, Suffolk, Chesapeake, Hampton, Newport News and throughout Virginia as well as in north eastern North Carolina. We always put the best interests of our clients first. The firm is recognized by other lawyers as “AV” by Martindale-Hubbell, a national attorney rating service, for our top level of legal skill and highest ethical standards. If you need help or advice about a serious injury, please call us at (757) 309-4711 or make an appointment to visit our Virginia Beach office at 4445 Corporation Lane, Suite #187, Virginia Beach, VA, 23462. For a free consultation with a specialized Virginia Beach, VA personal injury lawyer contact us through this website