Estrella Moreno said that she first cut engineered stone slabs in 2007. But she said that she did not know until her diagnosis about the risk of inhaling fine dust clouds while she was working. He said he wears an N95 mask, but it is less efficient at filtering out silica particles than other respirators.
Estrella Moreno blamed the manufacturers and suppliers of the engineered stone for which he and his wife sued for damages. Nearly 60 fabrication workers with silicosis in California are also suing, according to James Nevin, an attorney for Estrella Moreno and other plaintiffs.
The lawsuits allege that the largest manufacturers – Caesarstone, Cosentino and Cambria, based in the US – failed to adequately label and warn of the dangers of their products and did not issue effective instructions on how to use it safely.
“These companies know they are selling a deadly product that will kill the workers who have to make it before the consumer can get it,” Nevin said. “If there isn’t a clearer case for a lawsuit, I don’t know what is.”
Maria Valencia, Estrella Moreno’s wife, said she and her husband hope that by speaking out, they can help prevent others from going through the suffering their family experienced.
“Companies that make materials that are very toxic, with a lot of silica, they just want to enrich themselves at the expense of the many people they are going to kill,” said Valencia, 49, who works as a manager at a fast food restaurant. “For me, it’s an injustice that they put people in that danger. It’s inhumane.”
Caesarstone, Cosentino and Cambria declined to comment on the lawsuits.
Earlier this year, the owner of Cosentino admitted negligence in a Spanish court for concealing the health risks of one of its best-selling artificial stone products, which it said led to the loss of nearly 1,900 workers. who developed silicosis. He agreed to pay 1.1 million euros to five stonemasons, one of whom died and was given a six-month suspended sentence as part of a plea deal.
In the Bay Area, the father and son duo, who run a well-established stone manufacturing facility in Santa Clara, are also calling for solutions, including a more regulated distribution market. apod, stricter enforcement, and the sale of engineered stone products developed with a low silica content.