How Filing a Mesothelioma Claim Helped U.S. Navy Veteran Walter Twidwell

Walter Twidwell

When Walter Twidwell first joined the U.S. Navy in 1954, he, like so many others alongside him, had no idea how his nearly 20 years of devoted service would impact his health later in life.

In 2017, Walter was diagnosed with mesothelioma, a rare cancer caused by exposure to asbestos. This dangerous, fibrous mineral was commonly used throughout all branches of the military for its heat-resistant and durable qualities.

“The word ‘mesothelioma’ — I didn’t know anything about it.”
– Walter Twidwell

Despite so many people being unaware of the disease, more than 3,000 people are diagnosed with mesothelioma each year. U.S. veterans make up one-third of those diagnoses.

When Walter discovered that the makers of asbestos products intentionally hid the dangers of asbestos and put people at risk to protect their profits, he knew he needed to take action through a mesothelioma lawsuit.

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Walter’s Mesothelioma Story

Before his diagnosis, Walter lived an active and independent life. After retiring from the U.S. Navy, he eagerly returned to the peace and quiet of the Washington forests where he grew up. There he built his log cabin home by hand and enjoyed a simple life.

Unfortunately, Walter began experiencing trouble breathing and frequent bouts of pneumonia. He knew something was wrong and pushed doctors for answers. A chest X-ray revealed that Walter had pleural mesothelioma, a type of cancer that develops in the lining of the lungs.

After his diagnosis, Walter’s life was turned upside down.

“I can’t cut wood or raise a big garden or anything anymore. It hurts because knowing I had been so independent, and all of the sudden, I can’t do anything for myself,” Walter admitted.

Walter felt blindsided and began searching for answers.

20 Years Dedicated to the U.S. Navy

Walter joined the U.S. Navy in 1954 as a boiler tender and fireman responsible for repairing and maintaining engine rooms. He served during the Korean and Vietnam Wars and performed maintenance on seven vessels ported in New York, California and Washington.

In 1970, he received a Commendation Medal from the U.S. Navy after completing a marathon of repairs on a ship off the Vietnam coast.

“I was so proud to wear that uniform, and I put my heart into it,” Walter said.“There was never a boring moment.”

Until his retirement in 1973, Walter worked with gaskets made by Goodyear and many other asbestos products every day. These products led to his mesothelioma diagnosis decades later.

Walter knew the products he worked with contained asbestos — but no one told him about the dangers.

A Life-Changing Mesothelioma Verdict

As Walter began understanding how asbestos companies hid the dangers of their products for years, he became angry. He knew he had to do something.

“When I got told they knew many years prior what asbestos would do to the human being, I got mad and said, ‘Heck with this noise. They’re gonna hear from me,’” explained Walter.

He reached out to the mesothelioma lawyers at Simmons Hanly Conroy, and they assured him his mesothelioma claim would be filed against the asbestos companies responsible for his illness, not against the government or the U.S. Navy.

“Within two or three days, my lawyer came to see me,” Walter said. “He had a hands-on approach and that’s what drew me ‘cause that’s the way I do things, a hands-on approach.”

Walter’s case went forward and led to a two-week jury trial. During the trial, he shared how he was physically unable to live his life the same as he had before.

The jury awarded Walter a mesothelioma verdict of $40.1 million. The mesothelioma claim helped Walter afford mesothelioma treatment that allowed him to fight the cancer for two years after his diagnosis.

U.S. Veterans & Asbestos Exposure

Unfortunately, veterans like Walter suffer disproportionately from asbestos-related diseases like mesothelioma, asbestos-related lung cancer and asbestosis.

A naturally occurring mineral, asbestos is organically resistant to heat, fire and electricity, making it a seemingly ideal substance to include in construction materials.

From the 1930s to the 1980s, asbestos was used extensively in military vehicles, equipment, ships and buildings.

The U.S. military used asbestos in all of its branches, including the:

No matter the branch of the military, soldiers were at risk for asbestos exposure. Service members often came into direct contact with asbestos, and many veterans handled asbestos every day as part of their jobs.

The U.S. Navy built hundreds of ships in the 20th century — and a majority of them used asbestos. In fact, nearly every section of every Navy ship contained asbestos.

U.S. Navy veterans directly involved in the shipbuilding process were likely those who suffered the greatest risk of long-term asbestos exposure. Sailors and other Navy members could also have been exposed to asbestos when working below deck to perform installations or repairs.

Because they used asbestos at the highest rate, U.S. Navy veterans, like Walter, represent the largest segment of veterans with mesothelioma.

7 Benefits of Filing a Mesothelioma Claim

Thankfully, veterans like Walter do not have to go through their fight with mesothelioma alone. Some of the best mesothelioma lawyers will lead with compassion and fight to help veterans get justice through a mesothelioma claim.

Filing a mesothelioma claim can help veterans with mesothelioma:

  1. Pay for medical treatment that insurance won’t cover
  2. Afford travel costs to see mesothelioma specialists
  3. Make up for any lost wages from being unable to work
  4. Provide for their family’s financial future
  5. Get care for their dependents (spouse, children, and other family members)
  6. Take care of any unexpected expenses that may arise
  7. Award them for the pain and suffering they endured

While there is no amount of money that can right the wrongs inflicted on asbestos exposure victims, a mesothelioma lawsuit and asbestos trust fund claims can provide much-needed compensation during a difficult time.

Filing a mesothelioma claim is straightforward when you work with Simmons Hanly Conroy, a leading national law firm.

Simmons Hanly Conroy: Helping Veterans with Mesothelioma

We understand that facing a mesothelioma claim can seem intimidating and even overwhelming. It’s our goal to put you at ease.

Walter’s story is just one of the many stories from veterans Simmons Hanly Conroy has helped through their fight with mesothelioma.

Since 1999, our national mesothelioma law firm has helped secure over $9.7 billion in settlements and verdicts for families affected by this devastating cancer.

To learn more about how a mesothelioma claim can help veterans, call us at (800) 326-8900 for a free consultation.

Simmons Support Team
Simmons Hanly ConroyWritten by:

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The Simmons Hanly Conroy Editorial Team consists of journalists, writers and editors who strive to deliver accurate and useful information to families needing legal help. Our team works alongside the firm's attorneys and partners, as well as with medical professionals and other specialists, to keep all information relevant and helpful.

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