For 18 years, Mildred Wiley was a nurse in the psychiatric ward at a Veterans Administration hospital, caring for patients who smoked so much that she often worked in a blue haze.
Last week, the U.S. Labor Department ordered the VA to pay her widower $21,500 a year until his death - half of her salary - in the first workers’ compensation case in the nation linking secondhand smoke to a cancer death.
The Labor Department ruled Dec. 8 that secondhand smoke was partly to blame for her death from lung cancer in 1991. Mrs. Wiley didn’t smoke. Nor does her husband.
Mrs. Wiley’s husband, Philip E. Wiley of Charlotte, N.C., also has sued seven large tobacco companies. The workers’ compensation ruling is not admissible in court.
Local journalism is essential.
Give directly to The Spokesman-Review's Northwest Passages community forums series -- which helps to offset the costs of several reporter and editor positions at the newspaper -- by using the easy options below. Gifts processed in this system are not tax deductible, but are predominately used to help meet the local financial requirements needed to receive national matching-grant funds.
Subscribe to the Coronavirus newsletter
Get the day’s latest Coronavirus news delivered to your inbox by subscribing to our newsletter.