Mesothelioma is an aggressive form of cancer that develops on the thin layers of tissue that cover multiple internal organs. The disease is very closely connected to asbestos, a versatile and naturally-occurring mineral that was once commonly used in residential and commercial structures. Although asbestos is now heavily regulated, many of those who suffered exposure twenty or more years ago are just beginning to witness the devastating signs of mesothelioma. The disease takes decades to become apparent, but sufferers can hold responsible parties accountable years after they have been exposed.
Because there is such a close link between mesothelioma and asbestos, those diagnosed with the disease can expect favorable results if they take negligent manufacturers to court. However, a successful lawsuit or settlement still hinges on working with a talented and knowledgeable lawyer.
Why Mesothelioma Patients File Lawsuits
One of the most aggressive forms of cancer, mesothelioma, is often caused by exposure to asbestos, although the symptoms of this asbestos exposure may not appear for several decades. Many of those diagnosed with mesothelioma were exposed to asbestos in the workplace. In many cases, employers were well of the risks of asbestos, and yet, they failed to do anything to protect workers. Few employees realized they were in danger, for, at the time, the dangers of asbestos were not well-publicized. This quickly changed during the 1960s and 1970s, when asbestos manufacturers were hit with repeated lawsuits. These manufacturers were accused of purposefully covering up the dangers of asbestos.
Compensatory Damages for Mesothelioma
The financial devastation surrounding medical treatment for mesothelioma can be nearly as difficult to handle as the physical pain that stems from the disease. Fortunately, sufferers can gain financial relief by filing mesothelioma lawsuits, which may result in compensation for both physical and emotional suffering. The loved ones of those who have passed away due to mesothelioma can secure remuneration for their emotional duress, as well as the cost of burial.
Many mesothelioma sufferers seek both compensatory and punitive damages. The goal of punitive damages is to hold negligent manufacturers accountable. Additionally, lawsuits involving punitive damages are often highly publicized, thus setting an example for other manufacturers. The ultimate goal for most plaintiffs is to prevent future asbestos-related mesothelioma.
When to File a Mesothelioma Lawsuit
The compensatory damages awarded in mesothelioma lawsuits can deliver much-needed relief for those struggling to handle mounting medical bills. However, to secure this compensation, mesothelioma patients, and their loved ones must abide by strict deadlines. The existence of such a timeline makes it especially important for sufferers to speak with trusted legal representatives. The right lawyer can help you determine whether you have a viable case and how likely it is for you to secure the remuneration you deserve.
Mesothelioma Mass Tort
Class action mesothelioma lawsuits are somewhat rare, in part because these cases vary significantly based on when and where the patient was exposed to asbestos. Additionally, class action lawsuits are not ideal for mesothelioma cases in that they often are settled long after the victim has passed away.
Although class action lawsuits are avoided for mesothelioma cases, those who desire to file lawsuits do not necessarily have to go it alone. Mass torts allow sufferers and their loved ones to retain counsel from their attorneys, while still enjoying the greater influence of a class action lawsuit. One of the longest-running mass torts in United States history, asbestos litigation has been a constant presence in the civil court system since the 1970s, when the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission banned the use of asbestos in numerous contexts.
Examples of Mesothelioma Lawsuits
Many mesothelioma sufferers and their loved ones have successfully sued manufacturers, alleging that these businesses failed to provide adequate protection from a notoriously toxic substance. Defendants in mesothelioma cases typically prefer to settle out of court, perhaps because plaintiffs are so frequently awarded extensive damages when cases go to trial. Detailed below are just a few notable examples of mesothelioma plaintiffs who have successfully secured remuneration for their suffering:
In 2010, judicial, administrative assistant Nancy Lopez filed a lawsuit alleging that she was exposed to asbestos while working for over two decades at Missouri’s Jackson County Courthouse. She passed away in October 2010, but her mother took on the case and was eventually awarded $10 million.
In 2012, a California jury awarded $48 million to the family of Bobbie Izell, a former contractor who was exposed to asbestos dust while working on construction sites during the 1960s and 1970s. During this lawsuit, an extensive cover-up effort was revealed, with an internal memo from Union Carbide (the company for which Izell had worked) indicating that the company had engaged in deceptive practices.
Rose-Marie and Martin Grigg
It is not uncommon for family members of employees exposed to asbestos to also be exposed to the toxic mineral. This was, unfortunately, the case for Rose-Marie Grigg, who was exposed to asbestos while washing and shaking out the clothing her husband wore to work. At the time, her husband worked for Owens-Illinois, Inc., a company that used Kaylo insulation products. Extensive evidence indicates that Owens-Illinois knew of the risks associated with asbestos as early as the 1930s, and yet continued to allow employees to be exposed to it for several decades after that.
Fifteen years after he retired from his work as an electrician, Indiana resident Larry Myers was diagnosed with malignant pleural mesothelioma, an especially deadly disease with a typical survival rate of less than one year. His case has been quite complex, reaching the Indiana Supreme Court due to contention surrounding the state’s Product Liability Act. The Indiana Supreme Court has struck down a provision involving a ten-year cutoff, as the symptoms of mesothelioma typically take far longer than ten years to manifest. This case is of particular interest to those worried about filing lawsuits too long after they have been exposed to asbestos.
The Mesothelioma Lawsuit Process
No two mesothelioma lawsuits are exactly alike, but after thousands of lawsuits, certain patterns have emerged. The process is typically expedited for those currently suffering mesothelioma, as they are sadly not expected to survive long. First, the plaintiff’s attorney files a complaint detailing the injuries and why the defendant is believed to be responsible. The defendant then responds to this complaint. Often, defendants will seek to have mesothelioma cases dismissed.
The discovery process takes place before the case goes to trial or is settled. This process involves extensive depositions on both sides. After this period is complete, the case is often settled. Occasionally, however, cases go to trial. Plaintiffs are rarely required to be present for the entirety of the trial process, in part because mesothelioma has such a devastating impact on their physical health. If the trial comes out in the plaintiff’s favor, the defendant may choose to file an appeal. This can delay payment in some cases, but generally, payments are received a few months after a final verdict is reached. Throughout this lengthy process, a good lawyer with an aggressive courtroom demeanor can prove invaluable.