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Dennis loved being a mechanic. He learned the trade from his father and grandfather at their auto shop in picturesque southwestern Wisconsin.
Even as a young boy, Dennis preferred being at the family’s automotive repair shop with his Dad and Grandpa. “I hung around my Dad a lot,” Dennis recalled about his childhood in picturesque Mineral Point, Wisconsin. “Not only was he my Dad, he was my best friend.”
At twelve, Dennis got his chance to work at the shop. Sweeping up at first, then oil changes and brake jobs on his way to becoming a fully-fledged mechanic in his own right.
Forty years later, doctors found Dennis had peritoneal mesothelioma. They had been striking out trying to diagnose symptoms they thought were digestion-related. At just 52 years old, Dennis took the most devastating phone call of his life. Then Dennis made a call of his own; a call that led to legal help and a mesothelioma settlement.
Dennis probably spent more time at his family’s auto repair shop than he did hanging out with other kids. “Once in a blue moon I would go swimming with my friends,” Dennis recalled, “but it was more fun to go to the garage and be around Dad and Grandpa and learn the work.”
In the beginning, he would just clean up the shop or fetch items for bigger jobs. “I learned real quick how not to spill the oil,” he said with a sparkle of reminiscence in his eyes. “I had fun being a mechanic.”
Unfortunately, that time spent gaining experience and working on vehicles is how Dennis was exposed to asbestos. We know now that automotive parts, especially gaskets, brake pads, and clutches, contained asbestos. Many still do, because its use has not been banned, even though its link to cancer is well established.
“We knew asbestos was in things,” Dennis explained, “but we didn’t know it was dangerous or that it could cause cancer or kill you.”
“To get that first phone call…” Dennis said, trailing off, remembering the fear and confusion. “The specialist from [the hospital] called me one night at 5:30, and I thought ‘this is an odd time for them to be calling me.'”
The results from recent tests were in. Dennis was expecting more inconclusive findings after months of a similar pattern: “My reaction was ‘oh good, what do you got?’ and he didn’t speak for like 5 to 7 seconds, and I thought ‘oh my god, this is it.'”
The doctors had finally diagnosed the problem. “He said, ‘It’s not good.'” Dennis and his wife listened as the specialist delivered the news: “You have mesothelioma; you’ve been around asbestos.”
With one sentence, life for Dennis Ray and his family changed forever.
Mesothelioma ended Dennis’s career. The stress and expense of illness combined with the loss of income to cause a lot of anxiety about family finances.
“I’m like, ‘Geeze, where’s the money gonna come from?’” he recalled. That’s when his union’s benefits administrator (BA) asked a strange question. “He said, ‘Did you call that number on TV?'”
Dennis scoffed at the idea of calling a mesothelioma law firm from TV, but his BA urged him to call. “He said I think you need to call them because they help victims like yourself and they help you get benefits,” Dennis recalled.
Shortly after, Dennis dialed without knowing what to expect
Simmons Hanly Conroy moved quickly. “In two days, there was two guys at my house,” Dennis explained. He expected a drawn-out process that involved travel and court testimony. Instead, he never had to leave his home.
“Simmons made the legal process for my family and I very easy and I was very comfortable,” he said.
Simmons Hanly Conroy is proud to help those with mesothelioma, asbestosis and other asbestos-related diseases navigate the legal system. Our law firm has recovered more than $8 Billion for asbestos clients since 1999.
Legal compensation from an asbestos lawsuit can cover medical expenses and protect your family’s financial future. Our legal team makes the process easy for you and your loved ones.
To learn more about accessing compensation, get a free legal consultation.