Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (D-Mineola) has filed a lawsuit against more than 70 companies alleging their actions played a role in her developing lung cancer, according to her attorney and court filings.
McCarthy's lawyer, Daniel Blouin of Weitz & Luxenberg, said McCarthy's exposure to asbestos in her youth -- combined with her long history of smoking cigarettes -- helped cause her illness.
The 69-year-old congresswoman was unknowingly exposed to the carcinogen while washing the clothes of her father and brothers when she was growing up in Mineola, Blouin said. The men worked as boilermakers in navy yards and powerhouses, where asbestos attached to their clothing each day, the suit alleges.
"We're asking the corporations who played a role in causing the disease that will likely cause her death to take responsibility for the choices that they made to hide information about the dangers of asbestos," Blouin said. "Medical literature is in consensus that asbestos causes lung cancer on its own and in contribution with cigarette smoking."
Numerous studies have found evidence of links between asbestos and lung cancer. Blouin says the rate of lung cancer in smokers who also were exposed to asbestos has been shown to be higher than that for smokers who were not exposed to asbestos.
McCarthy on Friday gave a discovery deposition on Long Island, Blouin said.
The lawsuit, filed in State Supreme Court in Manhattan, was first reported by the New York Post. The companies named in the suit include various boiler pump valve makers, manufacturers of industrial tools and supplies, and other corporations whose products have been linked to asbestos.
McCarthy first ran for Congress in 1996, aiming to curb the spread of gun violence after Colin Ferguson fatally shot her husband and wounded her son in the Long Island Rail Road massacre in 1993. Before entering politics, she worked as a nurse in the intensive care unit at Glen Cove Hospital.
She took a leave from Congress in June to undergo lung cancer treatment at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in Manhattan.
A McCarthy staff member could not immediately be reached for comment.