Mesothelioma Class Action Lawsuit
Those suffering from mesothelioma (me-zoe-thee-lee-O-muh) and their survivors are able to file lawsuits against manufacturers and retailers of asbestos. These lawsuits can help recover lost wages and medical expenses. It is also possible to receive compensation for pain and suffering.
Every year thousands of Americans get diagnosed with mesothelioma, an often deadly cancer caused primarily by inhaling asbestos fibers. When inhaled, the fibers can stick for years to the protective mesothelium layer of organs. These fibers eventually can cause cancerous cells to form.
Mesothelioma symptoms can lie dormant for 15 to 20 years before being diagnosed. Unfortunately, it is often extremely aggressive, and as many as half of patients succumb to the disease in 18 months. As early as 1918, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics had become aware of an increasing number of unusual deaths with asbestos workers. By the 1930s, companies in the asbestos industry had become aware that the mineral was highly carcinogenic. However, the industry moved to block multiple attempts to block its use in the United States over the decades. By sponsoring pro-asbestos research, they ensured asbestos did not receive its first restrictions until the 1970s. Even today the mineral is not fully banned in American products.
The industry still claims that some forms are safe for use in certain controlled environments. The World Health Organization instead states that all forms of asbestos cause cancer.
Asbestos-related lawsuits are the longest lasting mass tort in American history. As thousands more get diagnosed every year, no end appears in sight.
What is Mesothelioma?
Mesothelioma (me-zoe-thee-lee-O-muh) is a rare form of cancer in which malignant cells are found in the sac lining the chest (the pleura) or abdomen (the peritoneum). Symptoms may include shortness of breath, chest pain, or pain or swelling in the abdomen. Treatment requires surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, and is based on whether the cancer has spread (metastasized) as well as the stage of the cancer when mesothelioma has been diagnosed.
Most people with malignant mesothelioma have worked on jobs where they breathed in asbestos particles, where the asbestos fibers become lodged in the mesothelium, a thin layer of tissue that covers the majority of your internal organs. This often affects a person’s lungs though can also affect a person’s abdomen on rare occasions. It does take some time for the disease to form, so it often goes undetected until much further down a person’s life.
Companies Endangered Their Workers with Asbestos
Asbestos was used primarily for cheap fireproofing and chemical-resistant insulation. But despite knowing for years that asbestos fibers cause cancer, the industry promoted its use for decades.
Asbestos was a particularly popular material for use between the 1940s to the 1980s. It was used in everything from construction, naval ships, auto parts (like brake pads), and certain textiles. Asbestos contamination has been found in talcum powder products and is a risk factor in talc mining. Companies continued to use asbestos in the face of the dangers because they wanted to get as much work out of their innocent workers as possible. As this continued, asbestos products grew into a multibillion-dollar industry employing over 200,000 people.
All this profit required keeping the health risks of asbestos hidden from the miners, factory workers, and consumers. Many companies took active steps to hide the dangers from the public and sacrifice the health of others for their own gain.
Approximately 87% of individuals who worked regularly with asbestos products for over 15 years would develop related diseases.
Longest Mass Tort in United States History
Mesothelioma patients began filing claims for workers’ comp in the 1960s. In 1991, a Mass Tort Multidistrict Litigation (MDL) proceeding was formed in Eastern Pennsylvania. Since then, this MDL has overseen a majority of mesothelioma lawsuits countrywide.
The proceedings have included more than 8,400 defendants and over half a million claimants for asbestos-related lawsuits. The eventual compensation is expected to reach over 200 billion.
How Much Is Paid Out
According to Mealey’s Litigation Report, the average settlement for mesothelioma is between $1 million and $1.4 million. The average verdict in court is closer to $2.4 million.
However, there have been cases when there have been considerably higher settlements, or verdicts have been reached for mesothelioma plaintiffs.
One notable example is the case of Roby Whittington, a retired steelworker from Indiana. Whittington won a $250 million jury verdict against his employer for 30 years, U.S Steel. U.S. Steel had allegedly ignored workers safety and exposed them to asbestos.
Billions in Compensation
The sheer volume of high settlements from mesothelioma lawsuits has bankrupted over 100 companies that formerly manufactured or used asbestos.
The companies that went bankrupt were required to set up trust funds for injured workers and their families.
Still possible to receive compensation
Importantly, even if the company that exposed the patient is no longer in business, it still may be possible to receive compensation.
The first of these trust funds were established in 1988 by the Manville Corporation, after declaring bankruptcy six years earlier. As of 2013, it has paid out an estimated $4.3 billion to claimants.
In total, 60 trusts exist, which have distributed nearly $20 billion to sufferers of mesothelioma and their families.
Who Is Eligible for a Class Action Lawsuit?
Anyone who has mesothelioma from exposure to asbestos can be eligible for a lawsuit. Additionally, survivors of mesothelioma victims can be eligible to receive compensation for their pain, suffering, and other expenses.
Who Is Liable in Mesothelioma Lawsuits?
Any of the following are typically among those who are held liable:
- Mining companies
- Manufacturers of asbestos
- Manufacturers of products containing asbestos
- Retailers that sold asbestos-containing products
- Building owners
What Expenses Can Recovered?
The lawsuits can provide compensation:
- Pain and suffering
- Medical bills
- Loss of wages
- Funeral expenses