After more than five years of litigation before the New York State Workers’ Compensation Board, Lipsitz & Ponterio has succeeded in establishing that the death of Joseph “Joe” Mahoney (close friends and family also knew of him as “Herk”), a former employee of the Linde Division of Union Carbide in Tonawanda, New York, was caused by his workplace exposure to asbestos. Mr. Mahoney worked at the plant from 1952 until his retirement in 1985. He died in 2003, and was survived by his wife Shirley, who now resides in Arizona.
It took a long time to establish this case, and a great deal of legal work and medical analysis, because the death certificate did not state clearly that Joe Mahoney died of asbestosis. At the initial hearing in this case, the Workers’ Compensation insurance carrier for Union Carbide objected to the claim asserting that the deceased worker was not, in fact, exposed to asbestos during the course of his employment at Union Carbide. Even though we filed a pathology report in 2005 stating that Joe died of asbestos disease and even though we presented co-workers who testified that asbestos was used in the areas where Joe worked, the carrier still wasted the next four years of the widow’s time disputing the claim. After much argument over details, Mahoney’s lung tissue samples from the autopsy were sent to Union Carbide’s designated pathologist, and it was concluded that Joe’s fatal lung disease was indeed caused by exposure to asbestos. Finally in 2009, the compensation carrier agreed that Mahoney was exposed to asbestos during the course of his employment, and the employer’s insurer agreed that the death claim should be established.
Shirley Mahoney persevered and is now receiving the weekly monetary benefits sadly denied to her for several years by the compensation carrier. In addition to a lump-sum amount for retroactive benefits dating back to the date of her husband’s death, Shirley will also receive a weekly monetary benefit for the remainder of her life.