Cancer in Delaware: The Industrial Impact

Recently, the News Journal published an article about Delaware’s high lung cancer rate: the state ranks 17th in the nation for the number of men suffering from the disease and 3rd for women.

The article does point out that Delaware’s cancer rates have improved: in the 1990s Delaware’s cancer death rate was second in the country, but it is now 14th.


What is to blame for the Delaware’s high cancer rate?

According to the article smoking is the reason – about 20 percent of Delawareans still smoke. What the article fails to address is that many other factors can contribute to a state cancer’s rate.

Other factors include the presence of heavy industry in the state. For years, deadly products such as asbestos and benzene were used throughout Delaware, often at companies that were among the largest employers in the state. Even for those who did not work directly with these products, they often had secondhand exposure from contact with friends and family and also through environmental exposure (in the air and water).

Delaware was host to two companies who used massive amounts of asbestos in the manufacture of various products: Haveg in Marshallton and Amoco in New Castle. From the 1930’s to 1980, these plants used tons of raw asbestos that circulated freely around the working areas and blew out of windows into the community.

Several years ago the News Journal published a feature on several generations of one family that was devastated by cancer caused by asbestos at the Haveg plant. Many Delawareans have filed cases against asbestos manufacturers or have filed workers compensation actions after being diagnosed with cancer from asbestos. Many of these individuals never smoked in their lives.

Utah is another case in point that smoking is not necessarily the only factor that contributes to a state’s cancer rate.

Utah has the highest percentage of Latter Day Saints (Mormons) of any state in the country. Mormon theology forbids the use of tobacco, hence Utah has the lowest percentage of tobacco users of any state.


Despite this, Utah has an incredibly high cancer, due in part to the number of individuals who work in heavy industry, particularly uranium mines.

Not only have former miners gotten sick and died, but those lived near the mines, including many children have developed diseases like leukemia and lung cancer and ultimately died. Thousands of abandoned uranium mines still remain throughout the state.

So, while smoking certainly contributes to a state’s cancer rate, it is by far not the only factor.

It is too convenient for industry to blame the victim, the dying cancer patient, and ignore their contribution. Improvements in public health require more than simply changing personal lifestyles – corporate lifestyles also need to change, placing human health needs before profits.

Still covering up abuse after all these years

News out of Minnesota demonstrates that the hierarchy of the Catholic church is not only still in denial about abuse of children by clergy, but is still covering it up.


An analysis of the 1964 Civil Rights Movement.

Jordan Perry, an attorney with Jacobs and Crumplar, recently co-authored  a column with Dr. Leland Ware, the Louis L. Redding of Law and Public Policy at the University of Delaware on the 1964 Civil Rights Act.  Jordan is also President of the Delaware Barristers Association.  Link on the link below to read Jordan’s column.


Read the column here >>



A historical overview of asbestos, including the risks it poses today

This recent article from the New Republic highlights the worldwide use of asbestos.  The article also demonstrates that those in charge of asbestos companies knew the dangers of asbestos but downplayed the risks.  The article highlights that although asbestos is not as commonly used today, it still causes the death of thousands annually.



Chicago Diocese Covered Up Years of Abuse

The cover-up.  Be it in politics or business, the problem of the cover-up is constant.  Admitting that you made a mistake and failed to stop bad behavior is such an easy thing to do; but so often, instead of admitting mistakes, people and organizations try and cover up their mistakes.   Recently in Chicago news broke that for decades the Catholic Diocese of Chicago hid evidence that many priests in its Diocese were abusing children.  March Pearlman, another attorney who has represented victims of sex abuse summed it up best when he said, “The issue is not when the abuse happened; the issue is what they did once it was reported.”In Chicago Diocese officials did worst than do nothing, they covered up evidence and allowed sexual predators further opportunities to abuse children.  Sadly, what happened in Chicago also happened in countless other dioceses around the country including Wilmington where Jacobs & Crumplar represented many individuals who were abused by priests employed by the Diocese of Wilmington. Jacobs & Crumplar has fought and continues to fight to hold institutions accountable for their cover-ups.

For more information about the cover-up in Chicago click on the below link.



A champion of the rights of victims: Kelly Clark.

Jacobs & Crumplar is proud to work with countless other attorneys across the country in the fight against childhood predators and the institutions and organizations that cover-up their actions. Kelly Clark, a Portland based attorney, was one such attorney. He recently passed away.


Uninsured Motorist Bill becomes law

The practice of law is often affected by what happens at the state and federal level. New laws can have both a positive and negative effect on the rights of injured parties. Our firm is a member of both the national American Association of Justice (AAJ) and the Delaware Trial Lawyers Association (DTLA), which does vitally important lobbying work at the local, state, and federal level. For example, DTLA was recently instrumental in helping pass Delaware’s new Uninsured Motorist Law.

As explained by DTLA, ”
The underinsured motorist bill (Senate Bill 61) passed the Senate and the House last legislative session, and was signed into law by Governor Markell on July 3, 2013. This new law allows injured parties to pursue their UIM policies up to the extent of their damages (of course, only up to their UIM limits), regardless of the tortfeasor’s bodily injury policy limits. In other words, UIM is “triggered” based on damages rather than “triggered” only if the injured party’s UIM policy limits are higher than the tortfeasor’s bodily injury policy limits.”

“For example, let’s assume that you are significantly injured in car accident, and the person responsible for the accident has $100,000 of bodily injury coverage. If you had $15,000, $25,000, $50,000, or $100,000 of underinsured motorist bodily injury coverage, your underinsured motorist benefits would be equal or less than the responsible party’s liability coverage, and your underinsured motorist coverage would not be “triggered” (and could not be tapped into, even if your injuries were deserving of more than the $100,000 of liability limits available). Under the new law, the underinsured motorist policy limits no longer have to be higher than the responsible party’s liability limits to be accessed. In the above example, you are now permitted to obtain the $100,000 of liability coverage, and also pursue your underinsured motorist policy up to the extent of your underinsured motorist policy limits (assuming that the damages are worth in excess of the liability limits).”

This new law will hopefully help protect Delaware drivers injured by uninsured drivers. This is just one of the countless ways, DTLA fights for Delawareans. Jacobs and Crumplar attorney, Elizabeth Lewis is on the Editorial Board of DTLA, and all attorneys of the firm are actively involved in DTLA and AAJ.

Delaware Supreme Court find that State police can be held liable for sexual misconduct of their officers

On September 12, 2013, the Delaware Supreme Court released its decision in Jane D.W. Doe v. State of Delaware. The issue before the Court was whether the State of Delaware could be held liable for the tortious acts (in this case a sexual assault) by an on-duty Delaware State Police Officer.

Under a theory known as respondeat superior a company or organization can be held liable for the torts that their employees do in the course of being an employee (e.g. a pizza delivery man rear-ends another car -the pizza company could be held liable for the accident the pizza delivery man caused since the accident happened in “the scope of employment”).

The lower court, reasoning that sexual misconduct is not in job description of of a police officer, granted summary judgment in favor of the State Police.

Justice Berger writing for the Delaware Supreme Court reversed the lower court decision and clarified what respondeat superior means stating, “The relevant test, however, is not whether Giddings’ [the police officer] was “‘within the ordinary course of the [employer] … but whether the service itself in which the tortious act was done was within the ordinary course of such business.’ Stated differently, the test is whether the employee was acting in the ordinary course of business during the time frame within which the tort was committed.” (Doe v. State, 2013 WL 5006496 * 2). The Court concluded that a jury could conclude that the defendant’s actions were foreseeable. (Id.)

This case may prove to be very helpful in the understanding the meaning of respondeat superior in Delaware. At the very least, it is a win for those who are victims of individuals who abuse their positions of trust and authority.

Co-Owner of Ice Rink Arrested on Molestation Charge

The co-owner of a popular Newark, DE ice rink was recently arrested. Scott Bicking has been accused by two young boys of inappropriate contact. A criminal investigation is still under way. Individuals who pray on children often seek avenues such as youth organizations (sports, religious groups) to gain access to children. Parents should always be aware with whom their children are spending time and ask their children about these adults. You can read more about these allegations from the News Journal’s website.

A lot of money but no apology: the NFL-Players Settlement

Football Season is back and with it comes arguments as to the best teams will be:  will Alabama’s Nick Saban-led team continue its dynasty?  Will Baltimore repeat as Super Bowl Champions or will another team emerge victorious.  Alongside stories of quarterback controversies and big game match ups, is the recent news that a group of 4,500 former NFL players who filed a class action lawsuit against the NFL has settled with the league to the tune of $765 million.  That’s a lot of money to be sure.  However, what’s interesting about the settlement is that the NFL got away without admitting any fault on its part or that football was the cause of the plaintiffs’ injuries.  Football was clearly the cause of the plantiffs’ injuries – how else would otherwise healthy middle aged men experience severe memory loss and other ailments?

The NFL settlement doesn’t end the matter either; as several former college players have recently filed lawsuits.  Football at the pro and collegiate level is a big-business.  The game is violent; something that everyone knows.  However, until recently professional and college football failed to take steps minimize risks associated with playing athletes who have already suffered concussions or trying to make helmets safer.

This settlement isn’t the end of the story.