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After Fatal Mesothelioma And Cancer Diagnosis, a South Carolina Man Lives His Final Months

Man with only months to live because of cancer and mesothelioma makes a plea to SC lawmakers for physician-assisted suicide.

Bob DeVey was diagnosed with two types of cancer, first mesothelioma and then cancer on his lower spine that after surgery left him with limited mobility and required him to use a walker or a wheelchair. He sought to find a way to die using physician-assisted suicide which is banned in South Carolina.

Mesothelioma is a rare terminal cancer that forms around the lung cavity. Although there are no known cures for it, progress is being made in treating it and extending the life expectancy of those who have it.

Bob DeVey originally was accepted into a trial clinic to allow for experimental treatment of his cancer.  After one round of this experimental drug combination, they discovered a second type of cancer in my spinal cord that was fairly well advanced. After consultation with all the physicians involved, the recommendation was to do nothing other than palliative care and make my dying as peaceful and pain-free as possible. No trial drug, no surgery, no chemo.

Bob DeVey knew his life was over and made a request to the South Carolina (where he lives) lawmakers to allow for physician assisted suicide to relieve him of his pain and suffering as a result of the mesothelioma and cancer.

Bob wants to choose when, and how, he dies. “I just want a peaceful and loving end with my kids, but I don’t see how I can control that.” Physician-assisted death is illegal  in South Carolina.

An appellate court in California allowed the state’s End of Life Option Act to go into effect while a lawsuit traverses the courts. With that, physician-assisted suicide became legal in six states — California, Oregon, Colorado, Washington, Montana and Vermont — plus the District of Columbia. A growing list.

Tthe American Medical Association took up the issue after its ethics council spent two years mulling a more neutral stance. After vigorous debate, delegates at their annual meeting in Chicago opted for more study, leaving in place guidance adopted a quarter-century ago that warns:

“Physician-assisted suicide is fundamentally incompatible with the physician’s role as healer, would be difficult or impossible to control, and would pose serious societal risks.”

Asbestos Exposure Began Early With Bob McVey

Bob McVey began his life in a small blue-collar town in upstate New York where, the summer after graduating high school, he got about the only job available.

At 18, he walked into an asbestos factory. Bob McVey states “It was a scumbag factory — the old turn-of-the-century, dirty, abuse-your-worker, union-led, hard-nosed factory,”  “But you know, upstate New York was at the time deteriorating. There were no jobs, and I wanted to go to school. So that is what I got.”

He returned briefly to the factory after graduating from college with an accounting degree. Although he wore a tie and toiled in an office, particles still floated in the air. The factory, owned by Garlock Sealing Technologies, has since gone bankrupt.

Garlock Company – Faced With Hundreds of Mesothelioma Claims Goes Belly Up

Garlock became the most sued company in the world, given the connection between asbestos exposure and mesothelioma, a deadly cancer that infests the lungs.

Based in Palmyra, New York, Garlock Sealing Technologies is a wholly-owned subsidiary of EnPro Industries, Inc. The company was founded by Olin J. Garlock in 1887 when he developed a seal for rods in locomotive steam engines. Garlock’s innovative product provided significant utility compared to those in use at the time and eventually became an industry standard.

Garlock faced hundreds of thousands of asbestos lawsuits, exposing the company to significant financial and legal hardships. According to industry publications, the company has spent more than $100 million each year in settlements since asbestos lawsuits began emerging. Furthermore, Garlock has paid nearly $1.37 billion in indemnity payments. Insurance coverage has issued over $1 billion to date. The company still has more than 100,000 cases pending.

Garlock buckled under the weight of more than 900,000 asbestos-related claims and filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in 2010. Prior to filing for bankruptcy protection, Garlock had been tenacious in defending itself against asbestos-related lawsuits. While several multi-million dollar verdicts were handed down against it, the company successfully defended many, many others. Now Garlock is being blamed as the cause of Bob McVey’s cancer and mesothelioma.

Yet Bob read studies that found workers exposed to asbestos who remained free of mesothelioma after 50 years likely had surpassed the big window of risk. Bob rounded that at age 67.

Fatal Diagnosis Of Mesothelioma Hits Bob McVey

At 69, he went to his doctor for worsening back pain, a pulmonologist at the Medical University of South Carolina sent Bob for a scan. When the man returned with the scan, he put his arm around Bob, then showed him white areas on his scan.“These plaques are indicative of mesothelioma.”

Horrible news for a man who had worked hard all of his life, now forced with a death threat that is “mesothelioma” and facing the harsh reality of going through treatment to prolong his life and the possibility of death.

Asbestos Help Available to People Like Bob McVey and Others Exposed to Garlock Products

There is currently more than $30 billion USD tucked away in Asbestos Trust Funds available for those diagnosed with an asbestos-related condition.Over $30 billion was stored in Asbestos Trust Funds for years. Victims of asbestos exposure were paid over $15 billion of this amount between 2006 and 2012. More than double that amount still remains for future claimants. These trusts are continually funded by the companies responsible.

Garlock Bankruptcy

Garlock filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in June 2010 looking for relief through several features of the law, including an automatic stay of current and new lawsuits, consolidation of claims and an authority of the bankruptcy and district court to estimate claims. During the bankruptcy process, Garlock and Coltec have been deconsolidated from EnPro’s consolidated financials, and investments accounted for using cost method.

EnPro developed a plan of reorganization to be approved by the claimants and the court. Although claimants’ estimates ranged between $970 million and $1.26 billion, a bankruptcy court judge in 2013 found Garlock’s obligation to be $125 million, according to court documents. The ruling determines that Garlock products resulted in low exposure to a limited population, and that some plaintiff’s law firms had controlled evidence to drive up settlements. Garlock entered negotiations with current claimants and representatives for future claimants, and came to an agreement in March 2016.

As part of the bankruptcy process, Coltec merged with and into a new EnPro indirect subsidiary, Old Co. L.L.C., which filed a pre-packaged Chapter 11 bankruptcy petition to be considered alongside Garlock’s in Jan. 2017. Old Co. retained responsibility for all asbestos claims for Coltec. All of Coltec’s significant operating assets and subsidiaries were distributed to a new direct, wholly owned EnPro subsidiary, EnPro Holdings Inc., according to a statement.

The amended reorganization plan protected Garlock and other subsidiaries from asbestos claims and would establish the $480 million trust to handle claims. EnPro also reached a settlement for Canadian asbestos claims in 2016, agreeing to pay an additional $20 million to Canadian Provincial Boards within four years of the effective date of the plan.

If you need more information on mesothelioma, including how to make a claim call our law firm today 1-888-HDZLAW-8

Alex R. Hernandez Jr. Mesothelioma Lawyer

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