George Lachapelle

14-lachapelleGeorge Lachapelle, a family man and native of California, was diagnosed with mesothelioma at the age of 73. He worked with and around asbestos containing products (the only known cause of mesothelioma) at various industrial jobsites for almost 30 years. He never saw any warnings advising of the hazards. He and his wife of 35 years have four daughters and many grandchildren. Living near his daughters, he enjoyed visiting regularly with them and his grandchildren. They are a close family.

George worked for Standard Oil from 1958 to 1987. He was a roustabout/pipeliner for the first two years and then a carpenter for the remainder. George worked with and around such asbestos-containing products and equipment as joint compound, pipe covering, asbestos cement piping, and pumps. As a carpenter he spent the majority of his career working directly with joint compound. George bought the joint compound as needed to do the drywall work and to repair the buildings. He had to mix this particular product which kicked up a lot of dust. George said the drywall work – including putting up the drywall, mixing the joint compound, applying it and sanding it down, then sweeping up – was the dirtiest work dustwise. He said he “was usually covered head to toe white with that dust,” by the time he was done. George’s wife, Ruth, had on occasion seen him in this dusty state and kidded him, “Now I know what you’ll look like when you’re old.”

George and his wife, Ruth, met in 1966 – mutual fiends of theirs set them up on a blind date. It was a match and they were married in 1968. George and Ruth enjoyed the simple pleasures in life – spending time just talking together, camping, and they really loved being with their family. However, things took a turn for the worse in July 2003 – George was diagnosed with mesothelioma. This was distressing news as George was the primary driver and caretaker of most household duties since Ruth lost vision in one eye and was diagnosed with the debilitating disease, neuropathy, a few years earlier. Ruth’s doctor said she will eventually be confined to a wheel chair.

George underwent an 11 hour surgery to remove the cancer and prevent further fluid build up in his lungs. His doctor said it was his only option – it should have only take three to five hours. Afterwards, George’s blood pressure was so terribly low he could not take any pain medication for the first three days. Known for his high tolerance to pain, George said it was excruciating. With the help of Waters Kraus & Paul, George and Ruth filed suit in September 2003. George started chemotherapy that fall. He was a strong man and lived a clean life. He had never smoked and was working out at the gym five days a week before his operation. It wasn’t fair.

The grandkids used to visit weekly but after the surgery and chemo, George just couldn’t stay awake long enough to enjoy their company. Unfortunately, George lost his fight with mesothelioma in September 2004. However, with Waters Kraus & Paul by her side, Ruth pressed on with their case. Trial was set for November 2004, fortunately, all the defendants settled the case beforehand, saving Ruth and the Lachapelle family a lengthy trial. George Lachapelle left behind his wife of 35 years, their four daughters and 17 grand and great grandchildren.

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