Widow of Air National Guard Member Wins Asbestos Compensation

A state Supreme Court ruled that the widow of a Connecticut Air National Guard member who died of an asbestos-related disease will receive workers compensation benefits.

Rita M. Fredette, from Windsor Locks, CT, won the right to the benefits after a long struggle with the state. Her husband had worked for 32 years as an aircraft mechanic for the Guard, reports an article in the Journal Inquirer. He died in 2003 at age 65 of complications caused by asbestosis.

“The case turned on the interrelationship of two provisions in the state’s workers compensation law setting different deadlines for filing claims,” explains the article. “The issue was technical and legally complex, but the state Supreme Court ultimately ruled that Rita Fredette filed her claim on time because it came less than three years after her husband’s diagnosis with asbestosis of the lung.”

Whether or not asbestos was the cause of Fredette’s death was also an issue in the compensation claim. The aircraft mechanic, for years a heavy smoker, was suffering from both emphysema and pneumothorax. Smoking is the major cause of emphysema, though Fredette says he quit in 1990. On his death certificate, asbestosis was listed as “Other significant conditions: Conditions contributing to death but not related to cause.”

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