Landlord With “Extensive” History of Asbestos Violations Faces Hefty Fine

05/24/2010 // Chicago, IL, USA //’ rel=’nofollow’>Cooney & Conway // Mesothelioma attorneys: Cooney & Conway

After an investigation uncovering eight violations of state asbestos regulations, the Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration (MIOSHA) has levied a $115,000 fine on the owner of an 80-year-old commercial building in Lansing.

Spanning nearly 450,000 square feet, the John Bean Building houses more than 30 businesses. MIOSHA officials say that the property owner’s “willful” and “serious” asbestos violations exposed employees to unnecessary risk for cancer and other asbestos-related diseases.

MIOSHA’s investigation, which began in November, found that the owner, GRL Properties LLC, did not properly inspect the building for asbestos, a building material that has long been linked to conditions including lung cancer and mesothelioma, a cancer of the protective lining covering many of the body’s organs.

Mesothelioma—which can take decades after asbestos exposure to develop—is almost always fatal. In many cases. it is the result of lax, negligent, or nonexistent safety procedures by landlords and employers who are aware, or should be aware, of the existence of asbestos on their property. Michigan, like other states, has extensive regulations designed to ensure that asbestos risks are understood—and mitigated.

In a statement, MIOSHA noted that GRL Properties and its affiliated companies have “extensive” citation histories, dating back to 1996, involving asbestos regulations. The company was given 15 working days to appeal this latest round of citations.

According to MIOSHA, one former John Bean tenant, Property Shield, had agreed to remove abandoned steel piping in the building in exchange for half the proceeds from the sale of scrap metal. The agency said workers were told that insulation around the piping was cardboard, when it actually contained cancer-causing asbestos.

“There was demolition going on, the asbestos wasn’t being handled correctly, [and] the employees weren’t properly protected,” said Bob Pawlowski, director of MIOSHA’s Construction Safety and Health Division.

Similar misrepresentations and malfeasance have been at the root of many asbestos lawsuits. Over the years, mesothelioma lawyers have been successful in obtaining large verdicts and settlements for victims of the asbestos-related disease.

Three of GRL’s eight violations were deemed “willful.” According to MIOSHA’s statement, that means there was intentional disregard for the regulations, “or plain indifference to employee safety and health.”

This news story was brought to you by the mesothelioma lawyers at Cooney & Conway, a nationally recognized law firm that has handled some of the country’s largest and highest-profile asbestos lawsuits. For over 50 years, Cooney & Conway has been fighting for—and vindicating—those injured by the wrongful behavior of others, including victims of asbestos exposure and disease.

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