07/26/2010 // Chicago, IL, USA // Cooney & Conway // Mesothelioma lawyers: Cooney & Conway

An Illinois court sent a message this month that asbestos violations, which place the public in grave danger, will not be tolerated.

A court in central Illinois sentenced an Auburn, Ill., man to 1 ½ years of probation, followed by 3 months in jail and 100 hours of community service for dangerous and improper handling of the cancer-causing material during a construction project.

Meanwhile, the ministry the defendant headed with his wife was fined $75,000 plus court costs.

As part of his sentence, Ray F. Landers will also have to publish an apology to the citizens of Virden, Ill., for his failure to adequately protect them during renovation work at a former nursing home by his organization, Equipping the Saints Ministry International Inc.

Asbestos is a heat- and fire-resistant material long linked to deadly diseases including lung cancer and mesothelioma, a cancer of the protective lining covering many of the body’s internal organs. It is most dangerous when airborne, a particular worry in renovation and demolition work, since asbestos fibers that are dislodged and released into the air can easily be inhaled, triggering mesothelioma and other diseases.

Because these conditions can develop years after exposure, mesothelioma lawyers say that violations such as Landers’s can lead to asbestos lawsuits—and deaths—many years down the road.

Landers, 57, was also fined $2,500 and ordered to pay another $2,500 in restitution to the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency’s Permit and Inspection Fund.

The Illinois EPA originally began its investigation of the incident after discovering that Landers was refurbishing the former Virden Nursing Home, but officials did not adequately inspect it for asbestos or determine whether asbestos-containing materials had been properly removed. Landers also neglected to inform the Illinois EPA of the asbestos, as required by Illinois law.

Landers and the ministry were indicted in 2007 on eight felony counts. Ultimately, the ministry plead guilty to improper removal of asbestos, while Landers plead guilty to a misdemeanor: failure to provide notification of demolition or renovation. The other indictments were dropped.

The Illinois EPA’s Daniel Merriman—who prosecuted the case along with Illinois assistant attorney general Colette Kennedy—says the hope is that a sentence that goes beyond monetary penalties will cause others to do the right thing. In the case of asbestos, this means taking measures necessary to protect the community from the risk of asbestos-related diseases like mesothelioma, which invariably carries a grim diagnosis.

Over the years, mesothelioma lawyers have had far more success than medical researchers, winning compensation for many victims of the deadly conditions caused by asbestos exposure.

“It was a just sentence that takes into account the seriousness of the offense, the hazard that was created, and the potential risk to the neighbors and the community,” Merriman said. “People tend not to take the asbestos issue seriously.”

This news story was brought to you by the mesothelioma lawyers at Cooney & Conway. For more than half a century, we have been advocates for those injured due to the wrongful actions of others. We have litigated and resolved some of the nation’s most significant asbestos lawsuits, bringing justice—and compensation—to victims of asbestos exposure and the lung cancer, mesothelioma, and other deadly diseases it can cause.

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