Monday, February 22, 2016

Crumb Rubber: Is it dangerous for my child? What can I do?

In 2014, NBC Nightly News started an expose on crumb rubber athletic fields that were growing in popularity around the United States.  These artificial, nylon turf fields required faux dirt, which manufacturers got from ground tires.  Recycling at this best.

However, one soccer coach, Amy Griffin of the University of Washington in Seattle made a startling discovery.  Nearly a dozen former players (mostly goalies) had developed cancer. Most recently, two goalies were suffering from non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.  Jordan was diagnosed at 21 and had been playing goalie, rolling around in crumb rubber since age 12. In all, Griffin had a list of 38, 34 of which were her soccer players.  She has a feeling that "those black dots" were to blame.

Cancer Cluster:

When incidents of cancer in a certain demographic becomes statistically significant, it's called a "cancer cluster." It's also helpful if the cancer is the same type of cancer for the entire cluster. "Statistically significant" means that the rate of occurrence is significantly more than what you would expect to see in a similar group.   For example, Camp LeJeune experienced a cancer cluster, but the 

Recognition as a cancer cluster means that the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Office of Occupational Medicine Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) U.S. Department of Labor, and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) may investigate and possibly hold the liable parties responsible.

Personal Recourse for Cancer Clusters:

If you or your family becomes a victim of a suspected or confirmed cancer cluster, you may have the ability to sue the responsible company or entity.  I say company because history has shown that cancer clusters develop after high levels of contaminants are improperly disposed...into water sources, public parks, or land later sold.  Mostly private for-profit companies are to blame. 

There are several causes of action or reasons for the law suit including, wrongful death, strict liability, negligence and other violations of federal and state specific law.  Law suits are typically handled on a contingency fee basis, meaning the plaintiffs (injured party) does not pay for the attorney fees and costs up-front. The law firm fronts the costs and the plaintiff pays the attorney a percentage of the recovered amount and pays back the costs of litigation.  If you have ever seen A Civil Action, you know that these cases are very, very expensive to litigate.  

The Importance of Experts: 

Some plaintiffs have prevailed, others have lost cases early on for lack of evidence linking the wrongful acts to the cause of the cancer.   Evidence starts from the moment some one gets sick, however the extent of the sickness may not be known for years.  Every jurisdiction has a Statute of Limitation and Statute of Repose that keeps the clock ticking. So experts need to work quickly and efficiently. 

What should I do? 

Don't live in fear, but monitor your child's health.  Pay attention.  If you child gets sick, make connections to exposure and talk to other people going through the same thing.  If you think you have a case, call a lawyer today. 

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