The Herald Journal

default avatar
Welcome to the site! Login or Signup below.
Not you?||
Logout|My Dashboard

Merlin Olsen family settles asbestos lawsuit

Font Size:
Default font size
Larger font size

Posted: Tuesday, September 20, 2011 5:24 pm | Updated: 8:26 am, Mon May 4, 2015.

The family of Hall of Fame football player and actor Merlin Olsen has settled a lawsuit with several asbestos companies that they say caused the rare form of cancer he contracted late in life.

Attorneys for Olsen's wife and three children filed a notice of settlement on Wednesday in Los Angeles without providing further details.

Olsen, a Logan native, played football for Utah State University about 50 years ago. He was a three-year letterman - freshmen were not eligible to play then - on the offensive and defensive lines for USU's 1959-61 teams, earning All-American honors during both his junior and senior searsons.

A member of the Los Angeles Rams' "Fearsome Foursome" in the 1960s, Olsen died in March 2010 after battling mesothelioma. He was 69.

Olsen claimed the cancer of the lung lining was caused by exposure to asbestos products at construction sites he worked on as a youth. The settlement covers 10 companies that manufactured or used the products.

After his football playing days, Olsen worked for NBC and ABC as a broadcaster. He went on to have a role on the television series "Little House on the Prairie," then starred in Father Murphy as the main role and in "Aaron's Way." He was a spokesman for other companies, appearing in many TV advertisements over the years. Olsen worked with USU in many fundraising endeavors as well.

Olsen was raised as one of nine children of Merle and Lynn Olsen, who lived across from Merlin Olsen Park in Logan.

© 2015 The Herald Journal. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

More about

Rules of Conduct

  • 1 Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
  • 2 Don't Threaten or Abuse. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated. AND PLEASE TURN OFF CAPS LOCK.
  • 3 Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
  • 4 Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
  • 5 Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
  • 6 Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.

Welcome to the discussion.


  • Balrog910 posted at 8:29 pm on Mon, Sep 26, 2011.

    Balrog910 Posts: 2

    Leah: I can assure you my information is far more comprehensive that you can ever hope to attain. You need to read (if you can read) my post. I said cases of household exposure are "extremely rare" not that they do not occur. Mesothelioma is, in and of itself, a very rare disease. Hundreds of cases? That might be true, but there are millions of people, which makes the staement of mine true.

    With respect to the association between Asbestos and disease, I never said that it was not connected, in fact I stated that J-M and others covered it up. It is the link between MESOTHELIOMA and asbestos that was discovered in the 1960's. Lead, uranium, and many other elements or minerals can be dangerous, we don't cease all production, rather we protect people from exposure. Asbestos had very good qualities, which included insulation and light weight, unfortunately, the injuries that resulted were not appropriately guarded against, and are now exploited by plaintiffs' lawyers in the USA and, apparently, soon coming to a courthouse near you.

  • leahthecaterer posted at 8:03 pm on Sun, Sep 25, 2011.

    leahthecaterer Posts: 2

    I'm not quite sure where you got your inaccurate information but I can tell you that asbestos does come home on clothes, unknowingly. My father was an electrician. He never worked in an asbestos factory. My girlfriend just lost her mother to mesothelioma 7 weeks ago, almost exactly 4 years after her father died the same suffocating death. Her only exposure was doing her husband's laundry. She never worked in a factory. My friend's sister just had a CAT scan and they found evidence in her lungs as well - she was a child at the time of exposure. There are hundreds of cases where the wives and children get the disease just from being exposed to clothing from the spouse or parent. In Canada you haven't been able to sue. Just recently they are starting to sue but it will be years before anything really dramatic happens. As far as a relationship between asbestos and meso goes, even Hitler knew that their should be compensation for people exposed to asbestos who got sick - and that was in the 1940's! Google it - you'll find out what I am talking about. It has been covered up for decades. We will never know for sure how much companies really knew but we have proof that there was a lot of covering up going on -even so much as to blackball doctors in the town I am from. It was all about the money instead of the human lives. The first documented cases for asbestosis were in the 1880's. That should have been proof enough that it was a dangerous mineral. The fact that Canada is still exporting it is appalling!

  • Balrog910 posted at 7:10 pm on Sat, Sep 24, 2011.

    Balrog910 Posts: 2

    Leah: Yes, while some companies (Johns-Manville, Raybestos-Manhattan, Owens-Corning, and a very few others now bankrupt) concealed the dangers of asbestos, none of them were sued by The Olsen family as they have either been forced out of existence or established trusts to disburse the remaining funds to asbestos claimants. Johns-Manville went into Chapter 11 in 1982, 29 years ago, and the defendants that were sued by the Olsen family undoubtedly were equally misled as were the employees and customers of J-M, R-M, and OCF. Mesothelioma's link to asbestos was only established in the 1960's, and the concept of dose-response continued to be ratched down such that some "experts" espose that one fibre can cause mesothelioma. Obviously, we all have asbestos in our lungs, as it is a attribute of living in modern society (it's in rocks). While no one blames Merlin, it was not described how he was occupationally exposed. As an aside, the cases of household exposure are extremely rare, and unless he was a miner or miller of asbestos, the clothing he wore -- is an unlikely avenue for exposure.

  • leahthecaterer posted at 10:18 am on Thu, Sep 22, 2011.

    leahthecaterer Posts: 2

    3 1/2 years ago I learned a new word - mesothelioma. My father was diagnosed on March 7 and died on May 12. He was exposed to asbestos in the late 1960's and early 1970's. Because he was exposed, so was I. So was my mother and my sister and brother. My mom is currently in a study to monitor the spot the doctors found on her lung. I wonder if this time bomb will someday explode in my own lungs because, unknowingly, my father brought home asbestos on his clothing. The first recorded cases of asbestosis were in the late 1880's. There is proof of companies covering up the dangers of asbestos because they didn't want to pay to protect their employees. Asbestos is not banned in the U.S. It is not banned in Canada - in fact Canada is still exporting asbestos to third world countries. For the past 5 months my sister and I have been tirelessly working to organize a walk which will be held in Sarnia, Ontario, Canada next weekend - October 1st. My family and I are flying back for the walk. We are remembering the victims of asbestos and telling the gov't that asbestos must be banned.

    It is the most painful of all cancers, the doctors told us. You literally suffocate to death. I closed my catering business and flew home to Canada to care for my dad because his last wish was to stay at home until the end. It was painful for me to watch him deteriorate so quickly but the pain he experienced was excruciating. He was on hydromorphone, several times stronger than morphine, and he still had pain. I don't want others in the developing world to suffer as he did. They don't have nurses to come to your home every day and strong painkillers and hospital beds brought to your house. It's criminal that Canada is still exporting this death. The asbestos lobbyists have lied for years about asbestos. There is no safe asbestos - NONE. If it's so safe why it is being removed from the parliament buildings and the prime minister's residence? Why do you need a hazmat suit to remove it!?

    Please visit our website to learn more about our walk, and if you have some time write the gov't of Canada and tell them to stop mining and exporting asbestos.

  • pleblian posted at 9:07 pm on Wed, Sep 21, 2011.

    pleblian Posts: 917

    Mike M,

    I'm not sure where you've been the past 20 years, but, um the reason that people are compensated so much by asbestos settlements is because: (a) it kills them; (b) Some dealers grew to know their product was harmful; (c) some sought to hide it.

    Juries don't give out big rewards on whims. Asbestos defendants got drubbed at trials

  • outside posted at 2:25 pm on Wed, Sep 21, 2011.

    outside Posts: 18

    Mike, you are correct about the beneficial uses of asbestos that was widely used back then. To simply assume that the company had the best interest of the homeowners in mind is being generous. Research Libby, Montana and the problems they had with W.R. Grace Company and their vermiculite mine which contained asbestos. Money was a driving factor in ignoring health and safety. I don't blame the Olsen family for pursuing this.

  • JoDeemyers posted at 1:37 pm on Wed, Sep 21, 2011.

    JoDeemyers Posts: 1370

    Back then Asbestos's was the materiel of choice, both for it's insulating quality's along with it being being non-flammable. It wasn't until many years later that it's harmful effects became known.

    To comeback on these company's now, that had the best interests of the home owner at heart, seems a little chicken shiat.

  • orion posted at 9:29 pm on Tue, Sep 20, 2011.

    orion Posts: 5175



In Touch

Cache Magazine Logan City Police Blotter RSS Feeds

Online poll

Sites You Might Like