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.
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 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
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
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.