Ira’s Story

As the second-youngest of nine children, Ira W. was born into a large Louisiana family in December 1928 and would later have a large family of his own. After losing a brother in Pearl Harbor, he joined the U.S. Coast Guard at the age of 20 and served for three years before returning to Louisiana.

Once there, Ira met Ann, his first wife and the future mother of his six children. The couple settled down, and Ira found work as a telephone installer and repairman.

What Ira didn’t realize at the time, however, was that he routinely worked with or around products that contained asbestos. This toxic mineral can cause various cancers to develop decades after exposure. One of these asbestos-related cancers is mesothelioma, an aggressive cancer with no known cure.

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How Ira Was Exposed to Asbestos

For most of his career, Ira worked as a telephone installer, repairman and cable splicer helper. He also worked as a permit man and insulator for various insulation contractors. 

As an install repairman, he worked at residential, commercial and industrial sites throughout Louisiana. On a daily basis, he repaired and installed telephone lines that required him to drill into vinyl asbestos tiles and ceiling tiles before then pulling the lines through spray-on insulation that also contained asbestos. 

As a cable splicer helper, Ira regularly handled asbestos-containing materials like gloves, blankets, pads and transit cable hole covers. He also worked in close proximity to other tradesmen who removed and installed asbestos-containing insulation from pipes, vessels and other equipment that created dust the workers then inhaled.

An Unconfirmed Mesothelioma Diagnosis

In 2016, well into his retirement, Ira started to have trouble breathing. X-rays revealed a buildup of fluid in the lining of his lungs, or a pleural effusion. On at least seven occasions in 2019, Ira had to have fluid drawn from his lungs. At the time, his doctors thought it was asbestosis.

In July 2020, Ira returned to the hospital over the fluid buildup in his lungs — but, this time, his treating physician had a different opinion. He was concerned Ira actually had pleural mesothelioma.

Because he was 91 years old and his health was already declining, Ira would not be a candidate for mesothelioma treatment. This led his primary doctor to decide against performing a biopsy to confirm the cancerous nature of the cells.

Ira then entered hospice care without the mesothelioma diagnosis many firms consider to be a must for litigation.

In fact, by the time Ira reached out to Simmons Hanly Conroy for help filing an asbestos lawsuit, his case had already been rejected by a local Louisiana law firm.

“He came to us as a 91-year-old with an unconfirmed diagnosis,” said Partner Rob Woodward, who worked directly with Ira. “I don’t think any other firm in the country would have taken his case, let alone been successful. Most wouldn’t even have given him a chance without a confirming pathological mesothelioma diagnosis.”

Ira’s asbestos exposure history, the multiple pleural effusions he suffered and the potential of mesothelioma gave our firm enough to work with. In August 2020, our team started building his case.

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Gathering the Evidence to Support His Diagnosis

Despite initial delays in the court from the COVID-19 pandemic, the trial date was set for May 2021. While preparing for trial, our team needed to gather evidence and testimony from medical experts and Ira’s treating physician to support his asbestos exposure history and diagnosis.

In the state of Louisiana, testimony from the treating physician is worth more to the jury than evidence from paid experts. Thankfully, the team was able to lock in testimony from Ira’s treating physician as well as experts, supporting his mesothelioma diagnosis within a reasonable degree of medical certainty.

Though it still wasn’t an official diagnosis with a confirming biopsy, these testimonies gave our team of asbestos attorneys something to work with and ultimately was enough to convince the defendants and secure results. Though the court date was scheduled, Ira’s case settled before the trial started.

Securing Life-Changing Results

Ira’s case has resulted in meaningful compensation from mesothelioma settlements. Securing these kinds of results speaks to the efficiency and expertise of the firm’s entire Asbestos Department.

“For someone who has no confirming biopsy, for an almost 93-year-old, it’s unheard of to get that kind of payment,” Rob explained.

In December 2021, Ira celebrated his 93rd birthday with his current wife Shirley. They continue to cherish the time they have together — and the newfound financial security the firm brought to their family.

“After I told him we didn’t have to go to trial, Ira went and celebrated with a crawfish boil,” Rob added.

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Get Experienced Legal Help Filing an Asbestos Lawsuit

By filing an asbestos claim, many mesothelioma patients and their families are able to hold the companies responsible for their illness accountable and secure compensation that can cover the high cost of treatment.

As a leading national mesothelioma law firm, Simmons Hanly Conroy has helped thousands of families affected by asbestos-related diseases get the justice and results they deserve.

Since 1999, we’ve recovered over $9.3 billion in mesothelioma compensation nationwide.

To see if you have a case we can help with, call (800) 326-8900 now or get a free legal consultation.

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Simmons Support Team
Simmons Hanly ConroyWritten by:

Editorial Team

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.