Friday, July 29, 2016


Original Story:

EXCLUSIVE: Less than a year after Christopher Tayback took over from Marty Singer as Bill Cosby’s main lawyer, the Quinn Emanuel Urquhart and Sullivan attorney and the firm itself have parted ways with the actor, Deadline has learned. Representatives for Cosby would not confirm the move when contacted by Deadline, however sources close to the situation said another firm has already been brought on board.

(UPDATE, 1:29 PM: Angela Agrusa, the head of litigation at LA & NYC firm Liner LLP is Cosby’s new attorney for civil case. See full statement from her below. Pennsylvania based Brian McMonagle, who has been already been working for Cosby, will handle the criminal side of Cosby’s legal woes. )

This comes just days after the former Assistant U. S. Attorney was unsuccessful on July 7 in derailing the criminal trial that could see Cosby behind bars for up to a decade. Tayback took the lead in the Norristown, PA courtroom of Judge Steven O’Neill in pressing for the case of Cosby’s  alleged 2004 rape of Andrea Constand to either be tossed out or a new preliminary hearing scheduled in which the former Temple University employee did have to take the stand – which Constand did not at the initial preliminary hearing of May 24.

In the past three years, over 50 women have publicly stated that Cosby drugged and/or sexually assaulted them over the decades.

A strident defender of his now former client, Tayback’s  frequent flyer points will surely take a hit with this break-up as the ex-L.A. County Deputy D.A. has represented Cosby in almost all of the several cases currently pending against him across the country. Those legal matters include former America’s Next Top Model judge Janice Dickinson’s defamation suit here in the City of Angels and Cosby’s own Keystone State case against Constand, her mother, her lawyer and the parent company of the National Enquirer to get back the settlement the actor paid Constand in a civil suit they came to an agreement over in 2006.

To add to his Hollywood connections, Tayback is the son of actor Vic Tayback, who played Mel on the CBS show Alice in the late 1970s. The actor passed away in 1990. If you have legal trouble in Leelanau County or Grand Traverse County contact Traverse City Lawyer Dan Hubbell.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Jury hits U. of C. hospital with $53 million malpractice verdict

Original Story:

A Cook County jury has awarded $53 million to a 12-year-old Hickory Hills boy and his mother in a 2013 lawsuit filed against the University of Chicago Medical Center, where he was born with a serious brain injury. A Chicago medical malpractice lawyer said this will help to pay for the boy's future healthcare.

The jury's award to Lisa and Isaiah Ewing includes $28.8 million for future caretaking expenses, according to a copy of the jury verdict form provided by their lawyers, Geoffrey Fieger of suburban Detroit and Jack Beam of Chicago. Isaiah has severe cerebral palsy, is in a wheelchair, and needs his mother to feed and clothe him.

It was the biggest birth injury verdict ever in Cook County, said John Kirkton, editor of Jury Verdict Reporter in Chicago.

Their lawsuit outlined about 20 alleged missteps by doctors and nurses after Ewing arrived about 40 weeks pregnant at the hospital and was experiencing less movement by her baby. The mistakes, the lawsuit alleged, included the failures to carefully monitor mother and baby, perform a timely cesarean section, follow a chain of command, obtain accurate cord blood gases, and be aware of abnormal fetal heart rate patterns that indicated distress to the baby, including hypoxia, or a drop in the supply of oxygen.  "The University of Chicago has been, for the last 12 years, completely unapologetic, and even though the evidence was overwhelming that they caused Isaiah's brain damage, they refused to accept responsibility," Fieger said at the news conference Thursday. Ewing hadn't had any problems during her pregnancy, he added.

Before the case went to the jury, the hospital filed for a mistrial.

Fieger's "closing argument shattered the line between zealous advocacy and improper prejudicial comments, rendering it impossible for defendant to receive a fair trial," the hospital's lawyer said in a court filing. "He also prejudicially argued that the defendant's case was built on a falsehood and proceeded to equate defendant's conduct and testimony of its witnesses with the propaganda techniques notoriously and unmistakably associated with Nazi Germany."

Hospital spokeswoman Lorna Wong said the hospital had "great sympathy" for the family but "strongly" disagrees with the jury's verdict.

"Judge Kirby declined to enter judgment on the verdict, as there are pending motions for mistrial based on assertions of Mr. Fieger's improper conduct," she said, noting that it wouldn't be the first overturned verdict involving Fieger.

She said Isaiah and his mother were treated for infection, which can cause cerebral palsy. "Isaiah was born with normal oxygen blood levels," and the "injury occurred before the care Mr. Fieger criticized."

After the news conference, Fieger said he expected the judge to confirm the verdict. "The jury has spoken," he said. A Chicago Brain Injury Lawyer said this is usually how this procedure occurs.

The jury decided the case in four hours, Fieger said. A list of the damages also includes $7.2 million for future medical expenses. The document was signed by 12 jurors.

Fieger disputed that Isaiah had an infection.

"All of the medical records at the University of Chicago neonatal clinic showed that Isaiah had been suffocated at birth, that he had suffered hypoxia, lack of oxygen, yet the University of Chicago and its lawyers came to court and tried to tell the jury that their own records were false, that their own records were mistaken and that Isaiah really had a phantom infection that infected his brain that they could never have known about," Fieger said during the news conference.

Ewing said at the news conference that she has to bathe Isaiah and help him go to the bathroom. She lives in a two-story town home, so she must carry him up and down the stairs.

She said the verdict will help ensure that Isaiah is taken care of after she dies.

Obama Nominees Caught Between Judicial Dreams, Practice Realities

Original story:

A plaintiffs lawyer in Honolulu. A civil litigator in Dallas. An attorney defending med-mal cases in Buffalo.

They’re among the Barack Obama judicial nominees twisting in the wind as the Senate starts its summer recess and the months tick down to the November election. If history is a guide, the Senate won’t vote on most of the 49 federal district and appeals court nominees pending at the start of the summer recess on July 15. Even a Los Angeles personal injury lawyer would like to be considered for this honor.

The uncertainty can be especially difficult to navigate for nominees in private practice. Unlike government lawyers and state or federal magistrate judges, firm attorneys face demands to bring in business and revenue. Winding down work in anticipation of a judgeship can have long-lasting financial consequences if the nomination fails.

“It’s hard because your clients think you’re leaving, and your partners think you’re leaving, and everybody thinks you’re leaving, and you don’t know whether you’re leaving,” said Carolyn Short, a partner at Reed Smith in Philadelphia nominated twice by George W. Bush to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania and returned without a vote in January 2009.

During Bush and Bill Clinton’s last full years in office, the majority of nominees pending by the summer recess never got a vote.

Although the situation isn’t completely hopeless—after the summer recesses in 2000 and 2008, the Senate did confirm a small number of judges—the odds of confirmation at this juncture are increasingly slim. As is true now, the Senate was controlled in those election years by a different party than the president.

A few unsuccessful nominees were renominated by another president. The chances of renomination are potentially higher for Obama nominees if Hillary Clinton takes the White House, but there’s no guarantee. (Of the 16 judicial nominees returned at the end of President Ronald Reagan’s last full year in office, seven were renominated by President George H.W. Bush.)

Republicans and Democrats accuse each other of unfairly playing politics with district and circuit court vacancies. Republicans point out that more Obama nominees have been confirmed to date than in the entirety of George W. Bush’s presidency. Democrats point out the higher number of judicial vacancies and the Senate’s slower pace on nominees during Obama’s final two years in office.

“It’s a shame that the federal judiciary has become a political football like it has,” said J. Richard Barry, managing partner of Barry, Thaggard, May and Bailey in Meridian, Mississippi, who was nominated to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi in July 2008 and returned without a vote in January 2009.

 By the numbers

In 2000, there were 38 federal district and circuit court nominees pending at the start of the summer recess and 62 vacancies, according to federal judiciary records. At the same juncture in 2008, there were 37 nominees pending and 41 vacant judgeships.

As of July 15, there were 49 nominees for 80 vacancies. Twenty-six of those nominees have had a hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee, and 20 have been sent to the full Senate for a vote. Those numbers don’t cover the U.S. Supreme Court, U.S. Court of International Trade and U.S. Court of Federal Claims—eight nominees are pending for nine vacancies on those courts.

There are 29 vacancies that the federal judiciary considers “judicial emergencies,” due to heavy caseloads in those districts. Nominees are pending for 19 of those seats.

The Senate historically has slowed action on judicial nominees leading up to a presidential election. Senators cite the “Thurmond Rule”—an unofficial policy attributed to the late South Carolina senator and former Judiciary Committee chairman Strom Thurmond—which dictates that the Senate shouldn’t act on judicial nominees in the run-up to a presidential election.

Russell Wheeler, a visiting fellow at the Brookings Institution who tracks nominations, said the “rule” recognizes that senators from the opposition party want to leave judgeships open for the next president, in the hopes that he or she is from their party.

There are also practical considerations, he said, since the Senate has a crush of business to handle at the end of a presidency and members are away from Washington more than usual leading up to November.

But the Thurmond Rule isn’t firmly applied, Wheeler said, noting that judges were confirmed after the summer recesses in 2000 and 2008, and not always in the order they were nominated.

“It’s not just a matter of getting in line, it’s some deals between senators and the White House,” Wheeler said. Given the bitter politics surrounding nominees this year, though, he said he expected that if there are any post-recess confirmations, the number will be “pretty paltry.”

‘Emotional roller coaster’

Former unsuccessful nominees said they did not envy the current crop.

“It’s an emotional roller coaster,” said Shalom Stone, a partner at Brown Moskowitz & Kallen in Summit, New Jersey, who was nominated to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit in July 2007 and returned without a vote in January 2009. “You’re constantly running through the range of emotions, where somebody says, ‘Oh, they’re going to have a hearing,’ ‘No, they’re not going to have a hearing.’ ”

The pending nominees include 34 prosecutors, state judges, federal magistrate judges or other government employees. Two are law professors. Thirteen are private-practice lawyers at law firms that include two of the largest firms in the nation—Hogan Lovells, in the Denver office, and Perkins Coie, in the Seattle office—as well as small and midsize firms from Los Angeles to Boston.

The private-practice nominees declined or did not respond to interview requests.

Former nominees said that by the time the Senate went into summer recess before the presidential election, they knew their chances of confirmation were low. But a vote was still possible before the end of the year, so they waited, sometimes with professional consequences.

Fredric Woocher, a partner at Strumwasser & Woocher in Los Angeles, was nominated in May 1999 to the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California. He had a confirmation hearing in November 1999. Woocher, who has a background in election law, said he stayed away from politically sensitive cases that might create problems for him in the Republican-controlled Senate.

After the November presidential election in 2000, that caution meant he turned down an opportunity to work on Bush v. Gore. Officials at the White House and the Justice Department warned him that getting involved could jeopardize his nomination, he said.

“I was probably one of three or four people in the country who knew what a hanging chad was … and then the scenario and the case of a lifetime comes up,” Woocher said. “It was very frustrating, needless to say.”

Financial sacrifice

There can also be financial considerations, particularly for lawyers at small firms with fewer partners and resources.

Richard Honaker, who has a solo practice in Rock Springs, Wyoming, was nominated in March 2007 to the state’s federal district court. He had a hearing in February 2008. During the year and a half that his nomination was pending, he turned away new cases, didn’t renew advertising contracts and wound down his practice.

“In hindsight it seems it was not prudent to do that,” said Honaker, a personal injury lawyer. “It turned out to be a very major financial sacrifice to volunteer for public service.”

Honaker’s nomination was returned without a vote in January 2009. Lacking new cases in the pipeline, Honaker estimates that in 2009 and 2010, he earned about a quarter of the income he normally did. It took five years to fully rebuild his practice, he said.

Lawyers at firms large and small reported varying degrees of strain on their practice while their nominations were pending. Some saw little effect, but said the waiting and the work associated with being a nominee was still stressful.

U.S. District Judge John Tharp Jr. was a partner at Mayer Brown in Chicago when George W. Bush nominated him in July 2008 to the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois. Given the timing, he said he wasn’t optimistic, so he didn’t make changes to his practice. His instincts were right—his nomination was sent back in January 2009.

In November 2011, Obama nominated him to the same court. This time his hopes were higher, absent the “baggage of time,” he said. He said his law firm was large enough that he didn’t have to worry about winding down business until late in the process. He was confirmed in May 2012.

“There were always going to be any number of partners who could step in and take my place,” Tharp said. “That was quite a luxury that people at small firms just don’t have.”

Some former nominees said they grappled with fears that the failure to get a vote would hurt their reputation among colleagues and potential clients.

“In the final analysis the nominee has to know that it’s a political process, it’s not a merit process,” Honaker said. “As along as you understand that, you can live with the result.”

LAPD Motor Officer Airlifted After Crash on 60 Fwy in Chino Area

Original Story:

A Los Angeles police motorcycle officer was struck by an SUV on the 60 Freeway in the Chino area and airlifted with major injuries on Wednesday, according to CHP which may lead to him needing a Los Angeles motorcycle accident lawyer if he does not get his medical needs covered.

The collision occurred just after 11 a.m. on the westbound freeway near Mountain Avenue, according to Officer D. Boatman of the California Highway Patrol’s Inland Division.

The Los Angeles Police Department officer was believed to have suffered major injuries, Boatman said.

The veteran LAPD Central Traffic Division officer was on his way to work when a collision occurred, LAPD Officer Liliana Preciado said.

His condition is not known but he is expected to survive, LAPD Officer Tony Im said. The officer was being treated at Loma Linda University Medical Center, where other motor officers were seen arriving for visits.

A witness said the SUV swerved into the carpool lane after the vehicle had failed to slow for stopping traffic, CHP Officer Jesus Garcia said on scene. The SUV struck the LAPD officer, who was traveling in the carpool lane, Garcia said. This driver may need a Los Angeles truck accident lawyer if the injuries are substantial.

The SUV's driver was hospitalized as a precaution.

Just before 11:30 a.m., Caltrans District 8 said the westbound 60 Freeway was closed for an unknown duration and life-flight was on the ground.

The location of the crash, as provided by CHP's traffic incident log, is near the border of Chino and Ontario. It is unclear if the officer needed hernia repair.

A SigAlert was issued at 11:19 a.m. All lanes reopened by 2 p.m.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Simi Valley Police motor officer injured in pickup truck crash

Original Story:

SIMI VALLEY, Calif. (FOX 11) - Unsure if you need a Los Angeles motorcycle accident lawyer?  Take a look at this story.

At 4:49 pm Wednesday afternoon, a Simi Valley Police motor officer was involved in a collision with a pickup truck at the intersection of Los Angeles Av and Tapo Canyon Rd. in Simi Valley.

The officer was transported to the hospital in critical condition. CHP Moorpark is assisting SVPD with the investigation.  This may also involve a Los Angeles truck accident lawyer.

Illegal fireworks cause amputation of 9-year-old L.A. girl’s left hand; July 4 firecrackers cause injuries around America

Original Story:

A 9-year-old Los Angeles girl lost her left hand in an illegal fireworks blast Saturday, police said, as Independence Day firecrackers injured people around the country.  But does this mean that they will contact a Los Angeles personal injury lawyer about her loss?

The hospitalizations and serious injuries happened to police officers and civilians from coast to coast, with a firecracker ripping a 31-year-old Nebraska man’s hand off and hurling it 90 feet away.

Arson and explosives detectives are investigating the 12:30 p.m. firecrackers in Burrell-MacDonald Park in Compton, Calif., after doctors amputated the girl’s hand and multiple fingers from her right hand, according to the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department. She also received treatment for blast injuries to her face but was reported to be in stable condition.

Deputies had yet to arrest any suspects Sunday night as they examine who blew off the fireworks, KCAL-TV reported. Investigators said they were likely illegal firecrackers or explosives.

Woman injured in Fourth of July fireworks accident in Brooklyn
Investigators said in a statement that they "would like to remind the public that all fireworks are [a] hazard and can cause injury.” The detectives asked anyone with information to contact the department.

Three Chicago police officers went to the hospital after incidents related to fireworks over the holiday weekend.

Someone inside a moving red Toyota Camry tossed a “half stick of dynamite” out the window at a squad car two officers were using to patrol the South Shore neighborhood around 4:20 p.m. on Sunday, Chicago police department spokeswoman Officer Nicole Trainor told the Chicago Tribune. The officers had their windows rolled up, but the explosion disabled the car on S. Exchange Ave.

The officers went to Northwestern Memorial Hospital in good condition with non-life threatening injuries Trainor told the newspaper. Police had yet to make any arrests Sunday night.

A “small novelty firework” placed under a toilet at the department’s 17th District station as a possible prank went off when an officer went into the bathroom around 5:50 a.m. Monday morning, Trainor told the local newspaper. The officer went to a nearby hospital as a precaution.

Meanwhile, Justin Noah dialed 911 to report his hand had been blown off by a powerful firecracker Sunday night in Valley, Neb., outside Omaha, fire officials told KETV. An emergency crew recovered the hand 90 feet from where he said he had ignited the blast around 7 p.m. at a lakeside residential area.

The blast also injured Noah’s left eye, Valley Fire & Rescue Department Fire Chief Aaron Ueckert told the Omaha World-Herald.

“This was not a typical Fourth of July firework,” Ueckert said. Noah was awake and alert as a helicopter crew rushed him to Nebraska Medical Center.

Two more people lost appendages near a Washington state casino late Monday.

A man lost his hand while holding fireworks that then exploded at around 10:30 p.m. near the Muckleshoot Casino 20 miles south of Seattle in Auburn, according to KOMO-TV.

The second victim lost a hand during a second incident at around 11 p.m. — near the casino’s bingo hall.

In New York City, a 42-year-old woman lost as many as two fingers while playing with fireworks early Monday on Brooklyn Ave. in Brooklyn's East Flatbush neighborhood, police sources told the Daily News. The accident happened the day after what investigators described as a “homemade” explosive blew off the foot of an 18-year-old Virginia man in Central Park.

Friday, July 1, 2016

2 Injured in Accident on Downtown Los Angeles Film Set

Original Story:
Two people at a downtown Los Angeles film set were injured Thursday when equipment fell on them, authorities said. This will be a case for a Los Angeles personal injury lawyer.
The incident occurred about 8:40 p.m. near 7th and Spring streets, according to Brian Humphrey of the Los Angeles Fire Department.
One person had head trauma and the other person suffered a leg injury, Humphrey said.
The equipment that fell onto the people may have been a ventilation fan, he added.

Tanker Truck Involved in Fiery 3-Vehicle Crash in Downtown Los Angeles

Original Story:

One person was left critically injured following a fiery three-vehicle crash involving a tanker truck downtown Los Angeles early Monday morning. A Los Angeles truck accident lawyer is looking at reviewing the case

The collision occurred just before 3:30 a.m. near the intersection of South Central Avenue and East 16th Street, according to Erik Scott of the Los Angeles Fire Department.

A fire erupted after two cars and a delivery truck carrying carbon dioxide crashed, leaving a person trapped in one of the cars, Scott said.

The person was extricated from the car and taken to a hospital in critical condition, Scott said.

The truck driver, described as a 61-year-old man, was hospitalized in fair condition, Scott said.

At one point, a spokesperson for the Los Angeles Police Department stated one person had died in the crash, but Scott later said the person was still in critical condition.

There was no immediate word on what caused the crash.

Los Angeles Motorcycle Accident Attorney Wins Lawsuit

Original Story:

Los Angeles Motorcycle Accident Lawyer Wins Lawsuit

Los Angeles, CALIFORNIA -- Attorneys from the Law Offices of Steven M. Sweat, APC, reached a $1.25 million insurance settlement for the wrongful death of a motorcyclist who was fatally injured by a hit-and-run driver.

The deadly accident was reported at 6:18 a.m. on July 28, 2015. The victim was a 29-year-old Iraq War veteran. The biker was commuting to work on Interstate 405 in Los Angeles. The collision occurred on the southbound side of the freeway near the Mulholland Drive overpass. On the day of the accident, she was struck by a 17-year-old driver who fled the scene.

According to the accident report, the teen driver crossed the solid yellow lines and veered into the HOV lane. The collision forced the motorcycle into the median barrier and threw her off the bike. The victim was transported to a nearby trauma center where she was treated for several days before her death.

Motorists who witnessed the accident provided a description of the driver's vehicle as well as a license plate number. Using this information, investigators tracked down the teen five hours later and arrested him on felony criminal charges. According the the traffic collision report, the teen attempted to mislead members of the California Highway Patrol (CHP) by claiming that the motorcyclist had hit him and is alleged to have fabricated "evidence" by intentionally causing damage to the side of his vehicle to make it appear that he had been hit.

To protect the rights of the victim's family, attorneys from the Law Offices of Steven M. Sweat hired a private investigator to locate a key witness and to obtain a statement confirming the actions of the at-fault driver. According to the witness, the car did, in fact, veer across the double-yellow line before striking the motorcyclist. An analysis of the CHP report and a follow-up investigation confirmed these facts and led to a decision in favor of the rider.

Using this information, accident attorneys at Steven M. Sweat, APC and Alderlaw, P.C. filed a wrongful death lawsuit demanding that the insurance company pay the victim's family the maximum amount under the teen's insurance policy. Nearly one year later, the insurance company for the at-fault driver agreed to pay the full policy limits of insurance in the sum of $1.25 million. This Los Angeles motorcycle accident lawyer helped to make a difference.

Unfortunately, no amount of money can replace a precious family member or a courageous person who served their country. However, personal injury lawyers can find the truth and provide closure to family members. A financial recovery offers some consolation for the loss of companionship and love. It can also pay for medical bills and for the pain and suffering that accident victims experience due to the negligence and carelessness of other drivers.

Hanford workers report illnesses linked to chemical vapors

Original Story:

Dave Klug walked out of a Hanford tank farm control room on a cold, calm night in January 2010 into air that took his breath away.

“Immediately, I had tightness in my chest. I lost feeling in my face. My heart rate was going crazy,” he said.

Klug, a longtime Hanford tank farm worker, was one of several workers who talked about their experiences with chemical vapors at a forum Wednesday night in Pasco. Was this coming from a chemical storage tank nearby?

Klug was off work for 11 months after that night and now has 30 percent permanent, partial disability for reactive airway disease and occupational asthma, he said.

Those who talked at the forum kept coming back to two types of illnesses they believe are caused by chemical vapors — breathing problems, as Klug described, and neurological issues, including a brain disease called toxic encephalopathy. This could involve a Baton Rouge toxic torts lawyer for assistance.

Toxic encephalopathy is what Barbara Sall said led to the dementia and death of her husband, a Hanford carpenter who died at the age of 57.  This could have been solved by a good chemical holding tanks with proper seals.

The forum — organized by Hanford Challenge, union Local 598 and state Attorney General Bob Ferguson — drew about 200 people. The two agencies and the state of Washington have filed a federal lawsuit seeking better protection from chemical vapors for Hanford workers.

The Department of Energy, the target of the lawsuit along with its tank farm contractor, has said that all air samples analyzed from the breathing zones of workers since 2005 have not found chemicals in concentrations above the occupational limits set to protect workers.

In recent months, about 53 workers have received medical checks for possible exposure to chemical vapors at Hanford, but all have been cleared to return to work when no symptoms were detected, according to DOE. Blood tests also have come back clear.

But such statements have been met with skepticism.

One worker at the meeting said it seemed that the tank farm contractor, Washington River Protection Solutions, did not care about sick workers when it recently pointed out that it had the second-best safety record in the nationwide DOE cleanup complex. Will these workers need a New Orleans toxic torts lawyer for help?

“They are going to eat those words” when they lose the lawsuit, said James Hart, national president of the Metal Trades Department of the AFL-CIO.

Mike Lawrence, the DOE Hanford manager from 1984-90, said he has been following the issue closely.

A significant number of workers have experienced health effects or symptoms, Lawrence said. There could be a correlation between the illnesses and toxic fumes from chemicals in chemical storage tanks.

But DOE says it cannot measure chemicals in vapors at levels that current occupational standards say would cause a problem.

“Obviously people are hurting, people are sick and something needs to be done,” Lawrence said.

He proposed that an independent, experienced and qualified third party, chosen jointly by DOE and the state of Washington, collect data.

Although a team of experts led by the Savannah River National Laboratory prepared the latest report on Hanford tank vapors, the report has no credibility to some because the lab is part of the DOE system, Lawrence said.  This story has caught the attention of a Jackson toxic exposure lawyer.

He suggested the University of Washington School of Public Health as a possible independent agency for the work.

Unless DOE can prove that workers are not being exposed to chemical vapors, protective gear should be worn, he said.

Supplied air respirators are required if Hanford officials suspect conditions that could cause the release of chemical vapors. The Hanford Atomic Metal Trades Council has demanded that supplied air respirators be mandatory for any worker in the tank farms, and in some cases workers near the farms.

Klug said the tank farm contractor just needs to fix the problem. Work to raise discharge stacks from the tanks so they are farther from worker’s noses is not enough, he said.

It has to be DOE’s responsibility to keep workers safe, said Steven Gilbert, director of the nonprofit Institute of Neurotoxicology and Neurological Disorders in Seattle and a Hanford Challenge board member.

“It’s a witches brew of chemical in the tanks,” he said.

Exactly which chemicals workers are exposed to is not known, Gilbert said. But he can say that inhaled chemicals can cause problems. The chemicals can go from the lungs to the brain quickly.  They wonder if there was proper use of a chemical holding tank.

People have different sensitivities to chemical vapors, said Rick Jansons, a former Hanford worker who is running for the state Legislature. Incumbent Brad Klippert also was at the meeting.

Jansons has been exposed three times and has developed no symptoms, but it is obvious that other people are getting sick, he said.

Diana Gegg, a former heavy equipment operator at Hanford, said she was 600 yards away from a reported vapor cloud in 2007 when she was exposed. Within a week she developed flu-like symptoms, plus vision problems diagnosed as muscle dysfunction.

She eventually had to stop driving and has been diagnosed with toxic encephalopathy and neurotoxicity, she said. Hanford officials have denied she was injured.

“My life ended that day as I knew it,” she said.

Hart, the national union official, said he has looked at the cause of death for Hanford workers represented by Local 598 back to 1988 and sees a pattern of deaths caused by cancer and respiratory illness for workers not yet 65 years old. This is the type of research that a Jacksonville toxic torts lawyer would have to do.

Younger workers at the tank farms are afraid to speak up about their concerns, Klug said.

Any worker under the union umbrella of the Hanford Atomic Metal Trades Council who raises tank vapor concerns will have the full protection of the AFL-CIO’s national Metal Trades Council, Hart said.

“We are all fighting for the people in this room,” he told the crowd.