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About Michael J. Angelides

Mike Angelides is a partner of Simmons Hanly Conroy. Over the last decade, Mike has helped recover millions of dollars on behalf of hundreds of clients suffering from mesothelioma and other asbestos-related cancers. View Full Profile

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Famous Mesothelioma Deaths: Paul Gleason


Paul Gleason’s iconic lines “Don’t mess with the bull, young man. You’ll get the horns” solidified him as the cantankerous antagonist in The Breakfast Club. While his role as the principal guarding rebellious 80s teens is his most famous, his death from pleural mesothelioma is less well known. Aside from being a casualty of asbestos exposure, Gleason was an actor with a full career on top of his dedicated family life and enthusiasm for sports.

Acting was not always his dream, though. Raised in New Jersey, the free-spirited Gleason ran away at the age of 16 and hitchhiked across the east coast playing baseball as he traveled. He settled down in Florida and attended Florida State University as a college football player.

After his time as a football player, Gleason joined the minor leagues in baseball and played two seasons professionally with the Cleveland Indians. Though he did not stay in professional sports, Gleason often participated in celebrity golf outings where he was known to meet with fans, conversing and signing autographs.

Gleason’s Acting Career and Mesothelioma Battle

Despite his reputation of friendliness to fans, many of his roles were that of the hard headed antagonist. He appeared in over 60 films. Some of the famous films and television shows you can find Gleason in include Trading Places, The Breakfast Club, Friends, Seinfeld and Die Hard.

paul gleason

In fact, it was during a standstill in his baseball career Gleason began to consider the idea of an acting career. This idea became reality when he was inspired to pursue his dream by his friend, and famous writer, Jack Kerouac. He developed his skills with Lee Strasberg, the acclaimed father of method acting. Gleason published a book of poetry shortly before his death, establishing yet another area of talent for the athlete and actor.

Sadly, Gleason met his untimely end at the age of 67 in May 2006.

Shannon Gleason-Grossman, his daughter, said of his death to mesothelioma;  “He was an athlete, an actor and a poet. He gave me and my sister a love that is beyond description that will be with us and keep us strong for the rest of our lives.”

He died abruptly in Burbank, California just three weeks after his pleural mesothelioma diagnosis. It is believed that Gleason was exposed to asbestos as a teenager working on building sites with his father.

Read more famous deaths from asbestos exposure and mesothelioma to learn about other actors, singers, and athletes who have suffered from mesothelioma.

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Famous Mesothelioma Deaths: Warren Zevon


Born in January 1947, rock singer Warren Zevon was best known for his sardonic wit and dark humored songs. This famously outlandish star died from mesothelioma, a lung cancer from asbestos exposure. Some of his best known songs include “Werewolves of London”, “Roland the Headless Thompson Gunner” and “Johnny Strikes Up the Band.”

mesothelioma deathsSon of a Russian-Jewish gangster and a frail Mormon mother, Zevon’s love of music began with studying classical piano as a child. Although classical music served as a starting point, by the time Zevon was performing in Los Angeles, his music had taken on its characteristically eccentric twist.

His first album, released in 1969, went unnoticed. But, he is now heralded by legends such as Bob Dylan, Neil Young, and Bruce Springsteen. His 1978 album “Excitable Boy” was his first big success and continues to be the best-selling album of his career.

Warren Zevon’s Battle with Mesothelioma

With the influences of Celtic, rock, and country music, Zevon’s career began and ended on David Letterman’s night time talk TV shows. He frequented the shows throughout his life and made one of his last public appearances on the Letterman Show, where he spoke candidly of his then-recent mesothelioma diagnosis.

“I keep asking myself how I suddenly was thrust into the position of travel agent for death,” he said, reflecting on his music, which so often dealt with death. “But then, of course, the whole point of why it’s so strange is that I had already assigned myself that role so many years of writing ago.”

He admitted on the Letterman Show that he had not been to a doctor in 20 years and only choose to go after chest pains that turned out to be symptoms of mesothelioma. At this point, the cancer was too advanced for anything but palliative treatment. Unfortunately, his trial with mesothelioma was often referred to as lung cancer and assumed to be a result of his life-long smoking habit.

Although this misinformation muddled reports of his mesothelioma death at the time, it is now clear that asbestos exposure was the true culprit. There is no consensus on how he was exposed to asbestos, but his song “The Factory” laments a worker’s life in a factory filled with asbestos.

He chose to focus his energy on producing one last album, entitled “The Wind”, which was released two weeks before his death. Despite the tragedy, he expressed that dealing with mesothelioma lent him new creativity. Indeed, his album “The Wind” won him a Grammy award and was certified gold by the Recording Industry Association of America.

Collectively, Zevon received five posthumous Grammy nominations. Having passed away in September 2003 at age 56, he is survived by his two children and two grandchildren. His son Jordan Zevon is both a musician and an advocate for asbestos awareness. Jordan recently performed at the Alton Miles for Meso 5K race, which raised over $27,000 for the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization, of which Jordan is the national spokesperson.

Learn more about famous mesothelioma deaths from our asbestos attorneys.

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Asbestos Victims Take Action: How to Tell Congress to Oppose H.R. 982


House Resolution 982, or the so-called ‘FACT Act,’ if passed, would require asbestos trusts to release confidential information about asbestos victims including their work history, family information and the last four digits of their social security numbers.

This bill denies and delays justice for thousands of asbestos victims. Stand with them and tell your Representative to oppose H.R. 982 when it comes up for a vote this Wednesday.

You can visit them in person or give their office a call and express your concerns about H.R. 982. Here’s how to do so, based on Take Justice Back’s “How to Contact Congress Guide.”

1.  Find your members of Congress here.

2.  Give them a call to ask them to vote NO on H.R. 982.

  • Remember that they will want to know your name and address so they can write you a letter back, acknowledging your concern and their position on the issue.
  • Please know that if you do not leave your name and address with staff, they will not pass your concerns onto your Representative. So it’s really important to let them know who you are!

3.  On the call, tell them about your concerns. Make sure to include:

  • The bill helps big corporations who have gotten rich from asbestos continue to profit from the suffering of their employees and consumers.
  • This bill allows Big Asbestos corporations to delay and deny justice until asbestos victims die. That’s not right!
  • Congress should be protecting our safety and wellbeing, not helping corporations profit from putting us in danger.
  • Veterans have been disproportionately impacted by asbestos and will be disproportionately harmed by this bill.  While veterans represent 8% of the nation’s population, they comprise an astonishing 30 percent of all known mesothelioma deaths that have occurred in this country.  Mesothelioma is horrific asbestos disease for which there is no cure.

4.  If you would prefer to e-mail your member of Congress, send an e-mail on Take Justice Back’s website here!

Thank you for your support!

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4 Major Threats to Lung Health (And How to Avoid Them)


Throughout the month of October, which is Healthy Lung Month, a special emphasis is placed on preventing lung diseases. Your lungs are one of the most complex organs in your body because they help you breathe.

Asbestos exposure can damage lung health.

The first step to ensure good lung health is to be aware of the threats in our daily lives that could potentially decrease lung health. Once you know what these threats are, it’s easier to avoid them whenever possible.

Tobacco Smoke

Not only does cigarette smoking increase risk for lung diseases and lung cancer, it also increases risk for health problems like heart disease and stroke. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC),  more deaths are caused by tobacco use each year than by HIV, illegal drug use, alcohol use, motor vehicle injuries, suicides and murders combined. In addition, the CDC says that if no one smoked, one out of every three cancer deaths among Americans would not happen.

To avoid the negative health effects of tobacco smoke, find valuable resources that can help you quit smoking. The American Lung Association provides a great deal of information on the subject.

Asbestos Exposure

Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral used in many products and places. When asbestos fibers are disturbed, they can be dispersed into the air. These small floating fibers can then easily be inhaled and become lodged inside the lungs or lining of the chest. That’s when asbestos exposure becomes a major threat to lung health. Over time, it can lead to serious health problems like mesothelioma, asbestosis and other asbestos-related diseases.

You can avoid asbestos exposure by not disturbing any products or materials that you suspect may contain asbestos. Always contact a professional asbestos professional to remove the asbestos properly.

Outdoor Air Pollution

Chemicals like diesel, ground-level ozone, automobile exhaust and other pollutants found outside can damage your lungs over time. These chemicals are often found in the atmosphere in varying amounts. Breathing air in polluted areas can reduce your life expectancy, increase risk of asthma, bronchitis and cancer, and decrease lung function overall.

Avoid high polluted metropolitan areas whenever possible. Bumper-to-bumper traffic is another risk factor you should strive to avoid because pollutants can seep into your car as you sit. This makes the air inside your car up to 10 times more polluted than normal city air.

Benzene

Benzene can be found in automobile gasoline, secondhand smoke, detergents and pesticides. It is a known carcinogen that can raise risk of leukemia and other major health problems. While it’s normal to be exposed to small amounts of benzene (for example, while pumping fuel at a gas station), you can avoid major benzene exposure by stepping away from the gas pump as you’re refueling your car.

Take care of your lungs. Start to make a conscious effort to avoid some of the major health threats – tobacco smoke, asbestos, air pollution and benzene – that exist in your everyday life.

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