Prior to his death, Ann Arbor police officer and former University of Michigan football player Vada Murray filed a worker’s compensation claim alleging that radon or asbestos at the Ann Arbor city hall caused his lung cancer. Both radon and asbestos are known carcinogens, and asbestos, a highly toxic mineral fiber, is also known to cause mesothelioma, a rare cancer that affects the protective lining of the lung and chest wall.
Murray died on April 6th, only two and a half years after diagnosis. Much like pleural mesothelioma, which affects the lining of the lungs, and other asbestos cancers, Murray’s lung cancer took decades to develop and only became symptomatic in later stages. This generally means that treatment does little more than to extend a patient a few extra months of life.
Now, Murray’s family finds itself pitted against the City of Ann Arbor, which maintains that Murray’s death cannot be tied to the city building. Murray’s family is suing for payment of outstanding medical bills and lost wages. A Michigan Workers’ Compensation Agency judge will ultimately issue an opinion on the case, but a trial date has yet to be scheduled.
Recently released city records, which indicate that radon, a carcinogenic chemical agent, was present at seven times the federal safety level in the basement and first floor of city hall, bode well for the Murrays’ case. Additionally, court records from an unrelated whistle-blower lawsuit are proof that there were concerns about health risks from radon and also asbestos within the police department beginning in November 2008.