World Trade Center Asbestos

World Trade Center Asbestos Issues Not Just About 9-11

While it’s true that scores of individuals were likely exposed to hazardous asbestos when the World Trade Center (WTC) towers fell on Sept. 11, 2001, releasing tons of asbestos insulation into the air, there’s currently a battle brewing between an insurance company, the owner of the WTC, and a group of men suing due to exposure that happened while the towers were being constructed in the 1960s and early 1970s.

World Trade Center Asbestos Issues Not Just About 9-11According to an article in the Insurance Journal, the highest court in the State of New York recently ruled that American Home Assurance Company must defend contractors and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey against asbestos claims that have been brought forward by construction workers who became sick after performing work on the original World Trade Center back some 40-50 years ago.

The insurance company had argued that they were not liable for those claims because there was no way to prove that injury to those individuals occurred during their policy period, which extended for 10 years from February 1966 to February 1976.

They also argued that these claims resulted in a single occurrence for which the $10 million liability limit had already been depleted.

The liability cases all stem from the fact that when the World Trade Center towers were built, Alcoa installed an aluminum curtain wall on the exterior of the two buildings and then hired a sub-contractor – the now-defunct Mario and DiBono – to apply asbestos-containing fireproofing – the spray-on type – on the curtain wall.

However, the five claimants involved in the suit say they were not only exposed to the asbestos in the spray-on insulation but also to the asbestos found in sheetrock, joint compound, fireproofing, pipe insulation, cement, gaskets, floor tiles, elevator brakes, ceiling tiles, pumps and valves.

Furthermore, the World Trade Center asbestos claims vary in nature, timing and location of exposure, according to court documents.

“They claim exposures in different years as well, ranging from the late-1960s to the mid-1970s and beyond,” the Insurance Journal article reports. “They also allege exposures in different locations, including one or both towers, the PATH (subway) areas, the Northeast Plaza Building, the Southeast Plaza Building, and the US. Customs Building.”

Some of the plaintiffs say they were exposed because they were responsible for cleaning up asbestos materials while others say the release of asbestos fibers due to sanding or otherwise disturbing various asbestos-containing materials is what made them sick. One case also involves take-home exposure.

But, whatever the case might be, asbestos is the true culprit in this story. Even in the 1960s and 1970s, it was already clear that the mineral was toxic and was making people sick, yet the decision was made to use in on such a grand scale as in the World Trade Center towers. It is no wonder that many have been affected by their work on the original tower construction.

Nonetheless, as a result of the recent action by the New York Supreme Court, these five claimants will be able to continue their cases and, hopefully, receive the compensation they deserve.