The national mesothelioma and asbestos lawyers at Miller & Zois represent victims of asbestos exposure across the state of Florida. Have the skills and resources to get Florida mesothelioma victims maximum compensation. This page will look at mesothelioma lawsuits in Florida and their average settlement value.
Mesothelioma is a unique type of cancer that is only known to be cause by exposure to asbestos. Mesothelioma originates in the lining surrounding the lungs and other organs inside the body.
Mesothelioma comes in several different types, depending on where it originates, but the most common is pleural mesothelioma (which originates in the lining around the lungs). This type accounts for over 80% of all mesothelioma cases.
Mesothelioma is an exceedingly rare form of cancer, with just over 3,000 cases diagnosed annually. That is less than 1% of all cancer cases. Mesothelioma is also the deadliest of all types of cancer, with a 5-year survival rate of under 12% and a 7-year survival rate of less than 1%.
Mesothelioma is Caused By Asbestos
One of the things that is truly unique about mesothelioma is that it is essentially a “man-made” type of cancer. The only thing that causes mesothelioma is exposure to asbestos. Mesothelioma does not occur unless a person was exposure to airborne asbestos fibers at some point in their life.
When asbestos particles are inhaled they accumulate inside the body in the tissue surrounding the lungs and other organs. Once inside the body, the asbestos fibers never breakdown and become embedded in the tissue where they eventually form into cancer.
Keep in mind that is takes a very long time for asbestos exposure to cause mesothelioma. The “latency period” (i.e., the time between asbestos exposure and the development of mesothelioma) can be anywhere from 15 to 40 years.
Asbestos Exposure in Florida
Asbestos was once a very commonly used material in the United States. It was widely used as a construction material, and a component in various products. It was also commonly used for industrial applications. It is estimated that over 1 million workers in the U.S. were exposed to asbestos during the 20th century.
- Asbestos was once found in over 3,000 commercial and consumer products such as talcum powder, automotive brakes and parts, insulation, roofing shingles, tiles, and on boilers.
- Industries in which asbestos was common include: steel working, shipbuilding, steam fitting, manufacturing, railroad, and more.
In Florida, much of the asbestos exposure occurred in the construction industry. From 1900 to the late 1970s when asbestos stop being used, the state of Florida underwent massive growth with construction sites all over the state. This has made Florida one of the highest-risk states for mesothelioma.
Known Asbestos Sites in Florida
There are a number of construction sites, manufacturing locations, and industrial locations within the state of Florida where large amounts of asbestos were used and where workers were likely to have been exposed. Below is a list of some of the known asbestos-exposure locations in Florida.
Anheuser Bush Plant
Gibbs Corp. Shipyard
St Regis Paper Company
US Gypsum Plant
Arizona Chemical Plant
Eglin Air Force Base
International Paper Mills
Monsanto Chemical Plant
St. Regis Paper
Florida Power & Light Facilities
Fort Lauderdale Power Plant
International Paper Mill
Smurfit-Stone Paper Mill
Tyndall Air Force Base
Hookers Power Plant
Nitram Chemical Plant
US Phosphoric Plant
Settlement Value of Florida Mesothelioma Lawsuits
Mesothelioma lawsuits have a very high potential settlement value for several reasons. First, mesothelioma is only known to be caused by asbestos exposure (and nothing else) which makes establishing causation very easy in most cases. The second reason is that mesothelioma is such a deadly form of cancer. Most mesothelioma cases end up being wrongful death cases.
The main issue in most mesothelioma lawsuits today is not proving that asbestos cause the disease, but whether the plaintiff identify specific asbestos products that they were exposed to so that defendants can be identified. This is often hard because a long time has usually passed since the plaintiff used the products, or they are already dead. Most mesothelioma cases today settled out of court with an average value of range of $1,000 to $2,250,000.
Average Florida Mesothelioma Settlement
The average settlement in a mesothelioma lawsuit can vary widely depending on several factors including the severity of the illness, the degree of negligence on the part of the defendant, the number of defendants, state laws, and the costs incurred for treatment and other expenses. On average, mesothelioma case settlements can fall between the low hundreds of thousands to several million dollars.
A few key points about these settlements include:
- Severity and Impact: Mesothelioma is a severe form of cancer usually caused by asbestos exposure. Settlements often reflect the seriousness of the illness and its life-altering impact on victims and their families.
- Medical Costs: Treatment for mesothelioma is costly and settlements typically cover past, present, and future medical expenses related to the disease. Cases with higher medical costs typically have higher average mesothelioma settlements.
- Lost Wages and Earning Capacity: Compensation may include the lost wages due to the inability to work, as well as the loss of future earning capacity.
- Pain and Suffering: While difficult to quantify, compensation for pain and suffering can constitute a significant part of the settlement. It most cases where there is not punitive damages, pain and suffering is the biggest harm in the case.
- Punitive Damages: In some cases where the defendant’s negligence was particularly egregious, which is what you see far too often in mesothelioma lawsuits, punitive damages might be awarded to punish the defendant and deter future misconduct.
- Number of Defendants: Mesothelioma cases often involve multiple defendants, which can increase the settlement amount as each may contribute to the final sum. These cases are so often a sum of their parts, with so many defendants contributing to the pie. When you have a large number of solvent defendants, it increases the average expected settlement amounts.
- Bankruptcy Trusts: Some companies responsible for asbestos exposure have set up bankruptcy trusts to compensate victims. If a victim’s employer has such a trust, it may affect the settlement amount. These trust can increase average settlement amounts or drastically decrease them. It really depends on the case.
Every Florida asbestos settlement is unique and, of course, the actual settlement amount will depend on individual circumstances. Settlement amounts can be wildly influenced by the quality of legal representation and the strategy employed during litigation.
What Impacts the Settlement Value of Florida Mesothelioma Cases
In Florida, as in other states, the calculation of mesothelioma settlement amounts is a nuanced process that involves several factors. It is never easy to estimate settlement amounts, but it is something Florida asbestos lawyers must do. Asbestos attorneys consider the following when estimating a settlement:
- Diagnosis and Medical Expenses: The severity of the mesothelioma and the associated medical costs are primary factors. Treatments for mesothelioma can be expensive, and asbestos lawyers factor in past, current, and anticipated future medical bills.
- Lost Wages and Earning Capacity: If the mesothelioma patient had to stop working or reduce working hours due to their condition, the loss of income will be factored into the settlement amount. This includes both past lost wages and future earning capacity.
- Pain and Suffering: This is a non-economic damage, meaning it doesn’t have a direct financial cost. However, the physical pain and emotional trauma experienced by a mesothelioma patient can significantly impact the settlement amount. Often, these are wrongful death cases where the pain and suffering is the loss of a loved one.
- Punitive Damages: In cases where the defendant’s behavior was particularly negligent or malicious in exposing the plaintiff to asbestos, punitive damages might be pursued to punish the defendant and deter such behaviors in the future. Sometimes, the defendants’ behavior in these cases is nothing short of awful and juries will push defendants when they do not like what they see. A Florida plaintiff must prove by clear and convincing evidence that the defendant’s conduct was intentional or grossly negligent. It is a high bar, but these defendants are sometimes so callous this bar can be jumped.
- Defendant’s Financial Situation: The financial health of the company being sued will influence the settlement amount. Some companies may have set aside trust funds specifically for asbestos-related claims. There needs to be the ability to pay from at least one defendant.
- Location of Filing: Jurisdiction can impact potential settlement amounts. Some jurisdictions in Florida – typically populated areas on the coasts – are perceived to be more favorable to plaintiffs.
Florida Mesothelioma Verdicts & Settlements
$14,000,000 (Miami-Dade County 2023): A woman sought damages for her son’s fatal mesothelioma, attributing it to asbestos exposure from products supplied by Union Carbide and produced by Georgia-Pacific. After multiple trials and appeals, the Miami-Dade County 11th Judicial Circuit Court awarded the woman $14 million. The liability was apportioned with Union Carbide being deemed 35% responsible, while other entities, including Georgia-Pacific and the decedent’s son, shared the remaining liability. The verdict was affirmed on appeal.
$18,000,000 (Broward County 2022): The decedent worked with asbestos-contaminated packing and gaskets, dating back to the 1970s through the mid-1980s, for which defendant John Crane Inc. was liable and/or responsible because of its failure to reveal health hazards. The defendant contended the plaintiff never used or worked with products for which it was responsible. Even if he did, the defendant asserted, such products did not contain asbestos or if they did would have released little if any asbestos fibers.
$14,000,000 (Miami-Dade County 2021): The decedent, age 75, died due to mesothelioma as a result of exposure to drywall products, sprays and joint compound reportedly containing asbestos supplied by defendant Union Carbide and Georgia Pacific while he worked weekend side jobs with his son, who was a self-employed drywall installer from 1976 to 1980. Union Carbide claimed that there was no evidence the decedent used their asbestos products.
$9,000,000 Verdict (Miami-Dade County 2020): In this talcum powder case, the plaintiff claimed she had been diagnosed with terminal peritoneal mesothelioma as a result of her exposure to asbestos, asbestiform fibers, and asbestiform particulates in defendants’ product Johnson’s Baby Powder between the approximate years of 1959 and 2018.
$2,500,000 Verdict (Miami-Dade County 2019): An adult male construction company owner, reportedly developed mesothelioma due to exposure to asbestos-containing products manufactured and sold by defendant Union Carbide Corp. and other companies. Hernandez claimed he developed mesothelioma while, among other things, working with joint compounds and wall and ceiling sprays and textures.
$6,785,000 Verdict (Broward County 2017): In the Broward County Circuit Court, a wrongful death lawsuit was filed after the death of a maintenance worker who died of mesothelioma. The jury deliberated for 1.5 hours and found John Crane negligent and concluded that the company marketed defective products that caused the deceased’s injury. The jury attributed 75% of the liability to John Crane, and also found other defendants, including Johns Manville, responsible for the other 25%, awarding $6,785,000
$14,000,000 Verdict (Miami-Dade County 2010): Plaintiff worked construction and came into contact with asbestos-containing joint compounds. The exposure primarily occurred in the 1970s, after the business relocated to Sarasota, Florida. He sued multiple companies for allegedly they exposed him to asbestos, resulting in his mesothelioma diagnosis. A Miami-Dade County jury awarded $14 million.
Contact Us About Your Florida Mesothelioma Lawsuit
If you have Florida mesothelioma lawsuit, contact the product liability lawyers at Miller Zois today for a free case evaluation. Call us at 800-553-8082 or contact us online.