Christian F. Hagn, Jr. from Chicago wishes he had known more about asbestos before he abruptly lost his 66-year-old father, Christian A. Hagn, Sr. (1938-2004), to mesothelioma.
“My dad got exposed on the job. I hope I wasn’t exposed, too,” said Christian, Jr. “Companies know that asbestos is killing people, but they keep it on the low. My dad had no protection. They told him it was just dust. Just clean your face, wash your clothes in the laundry, and everything will be fine. It was cheaper for them to lie.”
Mesothelioma is an aggressive form of cancer most commonly found in the lining of the lungs, and it is caused by exposure to asbestos fibers. The most common way people are exposed is in the workplace. Electricians, plumbers, pipefitters, insulators, boilermakers, bricklayers, iron workers, and mechanics are at risk. Jobs like mining and mixing raw asbestos into a wide range of products releases deadly clouds of asbestos fibers. The result of prolonged exposure often goes unnoticed for many years until it becomes fatal.
Christian Sr. worked for 22 years as a skilled pipefitter for Union Local 597, using his craft at a number of US companies. Born in the mountainous Bavarian region of Germany, Christian Sr. followed his dream to live in the US and eventually immigrated in 1957. Christian Sr. found work in various refineries, factories and plants in the US where he was exposed to asbestos. While much of his exposure occurred during the 1960s and 1970s, he did not experience any symptoms of the disease until over 30 years later.
“I remember that day very clearly,” remembers Christian Jr. “I thought I was taking my dad to the doctor to treat a cold. To my surprise, the doctor walked into the room and asked my father if he had worked with asbestos before, and he said yes.”
On October 30, 2004, a doctor diagnosed Christian’s father with mesothelioma: “Based on what we see wrapped around your lungs, you have six months.” Christian Sr. responded: “Six months for what?” “Six months to live,” said the doctor. “You have mesothelioma.”
Christian Sr. passed away one hour before Christmas Eve on Dec. 23, 2004, less than two months after receiving the diagnosis. The funeral service was held a few days after Christmas Day. Instead of celebrating the holidays with his father, he was mourning his loss. This is the day that changed Christian’s life forever.
“My dad passed away before my son turned three. He barely knew his grandfather. He barely remembers his image, and that hurts because you are never going to get your loved one back.”
Christian was devastated after losing his father to mesothelioma. He said: “I didn’t even know how to spell mesothelioma or even what type of cancer this was prior to the loss.” He found hope again when he met with attorney Nicholas Vogelzang from Vogelzang Law.
“He showed me how to get the justice I deserve. The reality is you will never get your family back, but you can get the companies that took them away to pay. If it wasn’t for Nick caring, these companies would have gotten away,” said Christian.
With the money Christian received from the settlement, he invested in real estate and soon began giving back to other families. “You have to save the money and be smart,” he said. “I got into real estate and I used the money to help others. I bought homes as investment properties for other families to help them and their kids to go to better schools.”
Even though Christian lost his father to mesothelioma, he remains hopeful and in peace. “Thanks to Nick and his law firm, I can say that if you are smart with your money you get from the settlement, you can set it aside for future generations and college tuition, which is what I did for my son,” said Christian. “I was a son of a victim and it amazes me how some people are afraid to pursue and go after these companies for compensation.”
After speaking with other pipefitters, Christian shared that many people are also afraid to sue because they think they are going to hurt the union and affect their pensions, which is not the case. “Companies that made or work with asbestos have to pay something. Otherwise, it would have been a total loss – not only a family member loss, but also a financial loss,” said Christian.
Christian is dedicated to spreading awareness about asbestos and mesothelioma in order to help others.“I found an asbestos tile when I was doing a house restoration one day and I told the contractor to stop working and to get out. The contractor did an asbestos test and sure enough it came out positive. Asbestos had to be professionally removed and it still exists today, but people are not aware and it is very deadly,” he said. “I want to speak to other families who are going through the same experience. I try to do the right thing in life. I recommend Nick and I appreciate all the help and the excellent job he did. I can’t thank him enough.”
If you or someone you know is going through mesothelioma and wants to get in contact with Christian, visit Vogelzang Law’s Forum: http://126.96.36.199/community/.
Nicholas Vogelzang, Lead Counsel, of Vogelzang Law has represented more than 200 families with every imaginable type of asbestos exposure throughout the country, resulting in more than 200 million in settlements and verdicts. He is committed to helping families fight and get the justice they deserve. There is no cost to file.
For more information on asbestos, mesothelioma, and how you can get help, visit www.vogelzanglaw.com or call 312-466-1669.
Vogelzang Law, a Chicago-based personal injury law firm dedicated to representing victims of mesothelioma throughout the US, will host its first Annual Mesothelioma Race for Justice on September 22, 2018 in tribute to National Mesothelioma Awareness Day. The 5K race will be held at the Lake County Forest Preserve Half Day location in Vernon Hills, IL at 9 a.m. The proceeds from this year’s race will benefit the Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation.
“Vogelzang Law is proud to present the 2018 Mesothelioma Race for Justice, benefiting the Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation. It is exhilarating and gratifying to help bring the mesothelioma community together and heighten awareness of this debilitating disease. There is something undeniably unifying and exciting about a sporting event, so in the name of community, competition, health and awareness, we encourage you all to enjoy the race,” said Caylei Vogelzang, Director of Business Strategy.
The silent auction will begin at 7:30 a.m. on race day. Shortly after that, an opening ceremony will be held to welcome all attendees and the race will commence at 9:00 a.m. During the race, volunteers will distribute Gatorade and water to participants. At 11 a.m., the winners of the silent auction will be announced, and the event will officially end at noon. Post-race, attendees will enjoy refreshments, awesome goodie bags and a huge after party. Each 5K participant will also receive a race medal.
“It is my honor and privilege to step into the role of race director for the Mesothelioma Race for Justice 5K. Through the years as Public Relations Manager at Vogelzang Law, I have seen the devastating and cruel effects of this disease first hand. I have also seen the inspiring stories of hope and perseverance in one day finding a cure. Through the funds raised for the Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation, my belief is that one day we can find that cure. I have been fortunate to see the brave families our firm has represented, who in the face of fear and adversity, are willing to stand as a community, support one another, and reach out to other families that have been affected by this disease. This race is our contribution to their tenacity,” said Race Organizer and Vogelzang Law’s Public Relations Manager Mirela Stefanescu.
The Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation (MARF) devotes extensive efforts to funding mesothelioma research in hopes of finding better treatment options and a cure. They have awarded over $10 million to 106 high-quality, promising research projects in six different countries.
“We’re thrilled that Vogelzang Law is sponsoring a race to benefit the Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation. The funds raised will support the Foundation’s programs, including research, patient support throughout diagnosis, treatment, and beyond; and financial aid for travel to obtain new treatment options,” said Melinda Kotzian, CEO of the Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation.
A keynote speaker and leading the race will be Chris Hagn, who lost his father to mesothelioma. Chris’s personal, heartfelt story will inspire other families who are going through or have gone through similar experiences as him.
The registration fee for the race is $45. Everyone who registers will receive a race day shirt at packet pick-up and a medal at the finish line. Packet pick-up will take place at the Fleet Feet Deerfield location, dates and times will be announced closer to race day.
Sponsors for the event are MARF, Fleet Feet, Rush University, the American Lung Association, the American Cancer Society, Hinckley Springs, Lifeway, Safe + Fair Food Company, the Chicago Wolves and Gilda’s. Anyone who wishes to volunteer or be a sponsor is welcome to sign up.
Registration is now open. Visit www.mesotheliomaraceforjustice.com.
A Cook County Court will see a case against a North Dakota company, thanks to a momentous order by Honorable Judge Clare E. McWilliams granting personal jurisdiction to the Illinois forum.
The February 20th order in the John C. Clark v. A.W. Chesterton Company, et al. case sets a new precedent for Illinois residents seeking trial in their home state and offers a more efficient path to justice in mesothelioma and asbestos cases.
While working as an employee of the Illinois-based United Conveyor Corporation, John C. Clark was contracted for a job for the North Dakota Great River Energy company. As such, he traveled back and forth between the two states. For the duration of his contract with GRE, Clark was subjected to asbestos exposure both on the job and upon his return home to Illinois, where the “take-home exposure” from asbestos dust on his clothes and shoes continued to damage his lungs.
Seeking relief from his injury, Clark sued GRE in Illinois court, only for the company to attempt to have the case dismissed over a personal jurisdiction dispute.
Judge McWilliams’ order denies GRE’s claims that personal jurisdiction cannot be established in Illinois and company requests to relocate the trial to North Dakota or Minnesota due to their location. Such claims would allow the company to put a greater burden on the injured party, forcing Clark to relocate the case.
In her order, the judge stated that because GRE worked with an Illinois company, and allowed employees to travel back into the state without establishing proper safety precautions that prevented asbestos exposure in Cook County, the case should be tried in an Illinois Court. As Clark’s injury occurred in Illinois, the state will have jurisdiction and be allowed to try the case.
The decision also protects Clark’s chances of obtaining “efficient and effective relief”, allowing him to remain in Illinois and avoid the expenses of multiple lawsuits across state lines.
This development marks a historic victory for asbestos and mesothelioma victims seeking legal recourse. Many employees who have suffered occupational exposure to asbestos traveled out-of-state for their jobs, frequently in professions like construction or industrial work. A multijurisdictional case, in which a Plaintiff must seek trial in every state in which they worked and suffered exposure, can be lengthy and complicated, causing undue stress and financial difficulty to injured parties seeking justice.
Judge McWilliams’ decision in Clark v. A.W. Chesterton creates a model which future mesothelioma cases may follow and outlines a swift and uncomplicated path to justice for victims of asbestos exposure. Thanks to Judge McWilliams, Illinois workers seeking redress for injury inflicted by out-of-state companies may be able to remain in their home state for trial.