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Mesothelioma Lawsuits

Mesothelioma lawsuits continue to make headlines. Large verdicts against those who have caused others to be sick and die of absbestos-related illnesses have become almost commonplace. Any person who has been exposed to asbestos and has contracted the related cancer can file a mesothelioma lawsuit.

 

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In the event the person has already died, then the family can file a mesothelioma lawsuit as well.

In addition, a family member who had close contact with a person who was also in contact with asbestos can file if contracting the asbestos-related disease. For instance, a spouse who washed the work clothes that were covered with asbestos dust or fibers can also file a mesothelioma lawsuit if that spouse contracted the illness.

The statute of limitations in most states for filing mesothelioma lawsuits is between 1 - 2 years from first diagnosis, so time if of the essence to proceed with most cases. Pending legislation may extend this time-frame to 4 years, but nonetheless, it is important not to wait in case the legislation does not go through or is appended with a shorter limitation. Mesothelioma lawsuits may take years to litigate before a settlement or verdict is achieved. Remember, with this type of cancer, the contact with the asbestos may go back as far as 40 - 50 years before symptoms appear and a diagnosis is made. So, in this type of case a lengthy investigative process usually ensues.

Sometimes people will contract the disease, undergo mesothelioma treatment and don't remember when they may have been in contact with asbestos. Mesothelioma is almost always caused by asbestos exposure so its important to contact an asbestos lawyer and begin the mesothelioma lawsuit first, at which time, the lawyer can hire a private investigator to research the client's history. Usually this type of investigation will uncover names, dates, places, companies and the manufacturers of the asbestos-related products.

With mounting medical bills that insurance may not cover, many people are worried about the costs in pursuing a mesothelioma lawsuit. Most asbestos lawyers, however, work on a contingency fee and do not charge any upfront costs and simply take a percentage of the settlement.

Major Mesothelioma Verdicts

One company that has probably been hit with more mesothelioma lawsuits than any other is W. R. Grace. By November 1999, 250,000 mesothelioma lawsuits had been filed against this company, with 150,000 either settled or dismissed and 100,000 pending. In Libby, Montana where W. R. Grace owned a vermiculite ore asbestos mine, hundreds of miners, family members and townsfolk have died due to exposure to asbestos. In 2001, W. R. Grace filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy because of all of the mesothelioma lawsuits and the Justice Department intervened, accusing the company of trying to conceal over $1 billion in assets. In 2002, Libby was declared a Federal Superfund Disaster Area. In 2005, the U. S. Attorney's office made criminal charges against several top executives at W. R. Grace for environmental crimes plus conspiracy, obstruction of justice, knowing endangerment and wire fraud. W. R. Grace is still in business with 6,000 employees in 40 countries and annual sales topping $2 billion.

The family of a U. S. Naval gunner was awarded $3.9 million in a mesothelioma lawsuit charging wrongful death. Crane Company out of Stamford, Connecticut was held liable in a Los Angeles court. Besides the construction industry and auto repair industry, Navy ships and shipyards are known hotspots for asbestos-related illnesses. In New York, a consolidated mesothelioma lawsuit consisting of 36 clients representing a group of men who had worked in a Brooklyn Naval shipyard in the 1940's and 1950's received a $75 million verdict. Also, in New York a brake mechanic in a mesothelioma lawsuit was awarded $53 million.

Union Carbide had to pay $18.5 million in a mesothelioma lawsuit brought forward by a former plastics molder. On the award, $15.3 million was in punitive damages. Atlanta-based Georgia-Pacific was hit with a mesothelioma lawsuit costing them $9 million for knowing about their unsafe asbestos-laden products for 10 years and failing to act. The verdict was awarded to a man who was exposed as a boy working with his dad. The jury awarded the man $6.2 million in punitive damages.

Bennett Auto Supply was the recipient of a mesothelioma lawsuit in which they had to pay $31 million to a mechanic who became ill from asbestos used by the manufacturer in the friction brakes. In Cook County, Illinois a professional insulator was awarded $12.3 million in a mesothelioma lawsuit and an Illinois plant worker was awarded $4 million.

Johns-Manville Corporation had to file for chapter 11 bankruptcy because of the slew of lawsuits against it for asbestos-related lawsuits. The courts ordered Johns-Manville to set up a trust fund for the victims, which were estimated to be under 100,000 at the time. Since then, the number of claimants has blossomed to over 280,000.

These are only a sampling of the many mesothelioma lawsuits and verdicts that have been in the news over the past 10 years. Many more are sure to follow, but mesothelioma legislation currently before congress could curb the large settlements including punitive damages that have been awarded in order to persuade companies to stop using unsafe products and for failing to warn about health hazards.

Mesothelioma Legislation

Currently the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has not banned the use of asbestos in most products even though asbestos dangers have been well documented. The Fairness in Asbestos Injury Resolution Act of 2005 seeks to place a ban on asbestos in products and curb the high punitive damages that verdicts have been awarding in mesothelioma lawsuits over the past 10 years. The legislation would also be a no-fault system so the claimants would have to prove by a preponderance of the evidence that they have an asbestos-related disease but would not have to prove the disease was the fault of any particular company.

Companies and insurance agencies who are currently engaged in mesothelioma lawsuits would then become defendant participants and insurer participants and contribute to a "superfund" or claims resolution fund, not to exceed $90 billion. In June 2006, amendments to this legislation were added that would include those exposed to asbestos in the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks and in the rescue and cleanup efforts for Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Rita.

Mesothelioma lawsuits are not going away anytime soon. It is estimated that currently there are 600,000 mesothelioma lawsuits going on worldwide. Because of the time it takes from asbestos exposure to illness diagnosis can top 50 years and the fact that the U. S. has still not banned asbestos from most products, asbestos-related illnesses such as mesothelioma are an inevitability for years to come. If you or someone you love has contracted an asbestos-related illness then contact a mesothelioma lawyer to find out what your options are and when you need to file.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 


 

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