A New York congresswoman being treated for lung cancer has filed a lawsuit claiming exposure to asbestos as a young woman may have contributed to her disease.
Rep. Carolyn McCarthy filed the lawsuit last month in state Supreme Court in Manhattan, said her attorney, Daniel Blouin. It names 70 companies that may have made or contained products that contained asbestos.
McCarthy, 69, admits she has smoked cigarettes for most of her life, but Blouin said tobacco companies are not named in the lawsuit because cigarettes have carried health warning labels for several decades.
“Nobody ever warned her about the dangers of asbestos,” Blouin said. “The tobacco industry had the decency to put warnings on their products.”
Blouin said he intends to cite scientific studies that link asbestos exposure to smoking, claiming there is an increased likelihood of developing lung cancer when both tobacco smoke and asbestos exposure are found in patients.
The attorney said McCarthy claims she was exposed to asbestos as a young woman when she did laundry for her brothers and father. Blouin said the men worked as boilermakers in navy yards and powerhouses, where asbestos attached to their clothing.
He said precise details on when McCarthy may have been exposed and what companies may have been culpable would be investigated as part of the pre-trial discovery process. He said the case could go to trial in about a year to 16 months.
McCarthy, a Democrat, was first elected to Congress in 1996 on a gun control platform after her husband was killed and son wounded in a mass shooting on the Long Island Rail Road.
She announced in June that she was undergoing treatment for lung cancer. The former nurse was not available for comment, according to her chief of staff.
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