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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.
For most of his career, Ira worked as a telephone installer, repairman and cable splicer helper for South Central Bell (later AT&T), from 1951-67 and again from 1976 until he retired in 1983. From 1971-76, he 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.
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 — but his doctors thought it was just asbestosis at the time.
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 a 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 it being mesothelioma gave our firm enough to work with. In August 2020, our team started building his case.
Despite initial delays in the court from the COVID-19 pandemic, the trial date was set very quickly — for May 2021, a mere nine months later. 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.
So far, Ira’s case is up to over $4.5 million in 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.
By filing an asbestos lawsuit, 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 $8.8 billion in mesothelioma settlements and verdicts nationwide.
To see if you have a case we can help with, call (800) 326-8900 now or get a free legal consultation.
Download our guide: Asbestos Litigation, Your Guide to the Legal Process.
Filing a mesothelioma lawsuit can help you cover medical expenses and secure your family’s future well-being for years to come. Our mesothelioma lawyers will make the process as easy as possible for you and guide you through the legal system. Learn more about what to expect when filing a mesothelioma lawsuit by downloading our free introductory guide.