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Opamianto, the brand that promotes Oria, Pajares & Asociados, manages claims from people affected by asbestos throughout Spain

Posted on 2/10/2020

Opamianto, the brand that promotes Oria, Pajares & Asociados, manages claims from people affected by asbestos throughout Spain

At the level of judicial rulings, a judgment of the Superior Court of Justice of Madrid (TSJM) stands out that condemned a company to pay 700,000 euros to the family of a deceased by asbestos. Photo: EP.

Luis Javier Sánchez | 02 October, 2020
Opamianto is a Spanish law firm that has been in claims for 15 years aimed at finding the best compensation for those affected by exposure to asbestos and their families. The name includes the initials of two of its partners Román Oria and José Pajares, to whom the lawyer Andrea Peiró has joined.
With offices open in Madrid and Zaragoza, and thanks to the collaboration they maintain with the US law firm Seeger Weiss SLP, it has a long history of obtaining compensation at the national level. "At the moment we are processing fifty cases," says Pajares.
This firm handles many issues related to asbestos, not only claims of workers against Uralita, now in bankruptcy, but also of the military with the Ministry of Defense and other companies that are not typical.
Thus, he explains that there are affected from other business sectors such as plumbing in Zaragoza, "which has made us have to sue against the City Council of this town", or workers from nuclear power plants or cooling towers.
"The profile of those affected by a disease that appears over the years in these people who have been exposed to it in their professional careers has greatly diversified," says Andrea Peiró.
In fact, they also carry issues outside of Spain, “in countries such as Mexico, Colombia or Argentina where Mariano Acevedo, president of one of the associations of affected people in that country, serves as a channel for addressing these claims. This issue is still less mature than in our country ”.
At the level of judicial rulings, a judgment of the Superior Court of Justice of Madrid (TSJM) stands out that condemned a company to pay 700,000 euros to the family of a deceased by asbestos. It is the highest compensation achieved in our country in an asbestos issue.
The ruling spoke of 500,000 euros for the widow and the rest for the children. Subsequently, the Supreme Court did not admit the appeal for cassation. Judicial decisions of this type can be consulted on the Opamianto website.
Regarding those affected in Spain, Peiró explains that although there are no official data, there are many. “In these years the courts already know what we are talking about. In cities like Madrid and Barcelona, ​​the problem is well known and how it affects workers and their families. ”Andrea Peiró, lawyer.
In June 2002, the ban on the manufacture of products containing asbestos came into force. In December of that same year, its production, marketing and installation of asbestos and materials that contained it were completely restricted due to the presence of carcinogenic properties.
For this jurist, “it is essential to be well advised when one has problems with asbestos. You have to realize that from the moment you really know that you are affected by this problem, you have one year to claim and file a lawsuit, unless you die. If he dies, it starts counting from that death. That year really passes very quickly, we have seen it with many cases ”.
The main issue is to have adequate information about their health status and to have a good medical examination that can confirm that this person has symptoms due to having been in contact with asbestos in recent years. "From there, with the information in hand, you have to know what you want and claim."
Disease detection
Regarding the detection of the disease, Peiró points out that “a few years always pass after being exposed to asbestos. In some cases, it may take approximately twenty years ”. The case of Metro de Madrid and its workers is an example of this.
At the Social Security level, if the family doctor is diligent, he can subscribe that we are facing an occupational disease. "If that is achieved, you can have a greater compensation and request an increase in the pension for the so-called surcharge of benefits," says Peiró.
If that professional has worked in a sector where there was clearly asbestos, it is easier than in other circumstances to achieve this recognition. In many cases due to advanced symptoms from mesothelioma.
Mesothelioma is a rare type of cancer caused by exposure to asbestos and until recently it was a mystery and an incurable disease.
However, over the past two decades, doctors, scientists, and researchers have begun to solve this mystery by helping people diagnose mesothelioma in its earliest stages, discovering new forms of treatment, more resources, and information to cope with the disease, and offering some optimism regarding the uncertain hope of survival.
A few days ago we learned that Metro de Madrid will compensate with 193,054 euros to the wife and daughter of a worker who died in 2018 after being recognized as having a permanent disability derived from an occupational disease due to exposure to asbestos, the first agreement reached by the public company with relatives of affected employees.
Of the compensation for “damages” caused by the death, 136,298 euros correspond to her widow and 56,755.32 euros to her daughter.
Both parties also undertake to request the filing of the legal proceedings that had been initiated in relation to the payment of said compensation and the percentage applicable to the surcharge of Social Security benefits, desisting from their respective claims.
For a comprehensive asbestos law
In these years, different associations of people affected by asbestos have been set up. Last June, the technical and technical architect for occupational risk prevention Antonio Bernardo and the auditor of the Court of Accounts Leonardo Visconti presented to the central government a manifesto for a comprehensive asbestos law project, supported by 21 groups from various communities and by seven individuals, including the two mentioned.
The proposal requires a law with a system that detects early asbestos-related diseases, such as pleural mesothelioma, a type of cancer exclusively associated with its exposure.
Its promoters also request aid and social assistance to the affected people, demand to invest in public and private investigation.
At the same time, they insist on the obligation for companies that worked with this material until its prohibition to register in the Register of Companies at Risk for Asbestos (RERA), those that closed but used it and those that have now specialized in this mineral to remove and treat.
Another claim is to draw up a census of places in Spain that contain asbestos, in addition to drawing up plans for deamiating and controlling this waste, all with funding from the different public bodies and the private sector.
From the Asbestos Victims Association (AVIDA), Juan Carlos Paúl, its president, explains that the issue is serious due to the presence of the Uralita factory in Getafe, which “has caused trials to continue to be carried out today. against the company for the serious illnesses that workers and relatives have contracted caused by inhaling the asbestos dust that was carried into the family home impregnated in work clothes ”.
For José Pajares “the situation has improved compared to previous years, but it is moving forward in our country. There is no political will for a fund to exist, as has been done in France, to cover the compensation of all these affected. In these moments it is complicated. The comprehensive law will allow a uniform treatment but where we have to work is in prevention and in recognizing its danger ”.
These issues are somewhat long at the judicial level, “if there is a single cause, such as a city council, it can be processed in a little more than a year, but if several interlocutors or operators converge in this matter, they must all be mentioned. In such a way that there are matters that are delayed at three and four years due to the lack of one of the actors. We would have to find a formula to make them lighter ”, he clarifies.

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