Teachers Say Asbestos Dust Made Them Sick
Four teachers from the Greater Lowell (Massachusetts) Technical High School have filed suit against contractors who completed work at that facility in 2014-2015, alleging that the companies left behind asbestos dust made them sick. One of the four plaintiffs is seriously ill.
According to an article in the Lowell Sun, the four suits were filed separately and do not name the school or school district as defendants. Instead, the lawsuits point a finger at the project’s general contractor, Consigli Construction; the subcontractor that removed asbestos-containing materials from the building, R.M. Technologies; and another subcontractor that was hired to oversee R.M. Technology’s work, Universal Environmental Consultants.
The first suit was filed by Rhonda Piper, who was a Transition Training Worksite Aid at the school when the massive renovation project was taking place. Piper claims that when she arrived at school on June 2, 2014, her room and desk were covered with asbestos dust.
On the weekend prior, workers had been removing asbestos from parts of the school. She cleaned off her desk before the students arrived.
As a result, Piper says she’s had debilitating respiratory problems and has amassed some $67,000 in medical bills to treat her ailments.
Since that time, the Department of Industrial Accidents has determined that Piper is permanently disabled.
Piper’s exposure, and that of the other four teachers, is allegedly the result of R.M. Technologies failure to properly seal areas where asbestos abatement was being performed, nor did they clean areas from which asbestos materials were removed.
Hence, toxic dust was left behind in certain areas of the school, particularly in spots where the classrooms of the four plaintiffs were located.
Thomas Villandry, who is a special education teacher, says he has suffered exacerbated asthma as well as post-traumatic stress disorder because of the exposure.
He has already spent $10,000 of his own money on medical bills and is waiting for further reports about his current respiratory symptoms.
Another special ed teacher, Nicole Ignacio, also reports severe respiratory system problems while colleague Nicole Terrier claims to be suffering from a vast variety of ailments likely caused by the exposure, including a severe skin condition that has been extremely debilitating and was probably a result of the chemicals in the dust.
Other teachers at the school have filed workers’ compensation claims, but there is no indication as to whether they also plan to file lawsuits against the contractor and sub-contractors.
All three companies named in the suits have denied any wrongdoing.
The school district, though not named in the suit, claims to have done everything possible to have protected staff, faculty, and students during that lengthy and costly renovation.
“We feel pretty strongly on our end that we took measures that were reasonable and consistent with industry practice and law,” superintendent Joseph Mastrocola said