Mesothelioma is a rare and deadly form of cancer that is caused by exposure to asbestos, a material that was widely used in various industries until the late 1970s. If you were diagnosed with mesothelioma it means that you were exposed to asbestos at some point in your life. Anyone with mesothelioma is eligible to file an asbestos lawsuit and get financial compensation from the manufacturers of asbestos products.
Our national product liability firm is currently seeking asbestos cases from anyone who has been diagnosed with mesothelioma, or the surviving family members of someone who died from mesothelioma. Contact our office today at 800-553-8082 for a free consultation.
History of Asbestos
Asbestos is a very unique type of natural mineral that is made up of highly flexible fibers. What makes asbestos so unique is that its fibers are almost completely resistant to heat deterioration. Even at extremely high temperatures or under a direct flame, asbestos fibers do not break down or weaken. Asbestos is also very resistant to any type of corrosion and does not conduct electricity.
The unique properties and indestructible nature of asbestos made it extremely useful for a wide variety of industrial purposes. The use of asbestos in American industry began in the late 1800s and by the early 1900s asbestos had become widely used in thousands of products and in a wide variety of applications.
The primary and most significant use of asbestos was as an insulation material. Its ability to resist heat damage and not corrode or conduct electricity made asbestos the ideal material for insulation in both construction and heavy industry. Asbestos was also used to make a wide variety of products including brakes and auto parts, floor tiles, ceiling tiles, shingles, and other building materials. It was also used in electrical parts.
Asbestos Exposure Risks
When the fibrous asbestos particles become airborne and are inhaled they are extremely toxic to the human body. The same indestructible nature that made asbestos so useful as an industrial material also made it extremely harmful to the human body.
When inhaled in large quantities or in small amounts over long time periods, asbestos fibers rapidly accumulate in the lungs and cause major damage. Asbestos is considered one of the most carcinogenic and it has been completely banned in most developed countries.
Mesothelioma is a very rare and extremely dangerous type of cancer that is specifically caused by asbestos. Mesothelioma develops in the lining that surrounds certain tissue inside the body such as the lungs. There are different subtypes of mesothelioma based on where the cancer originates in the body.
The two most common mesothelioma subtypes are pleural mesothelioma and peritoneal mesothelioma. Pleural is the most common, accounting for about 80 of all cases, and it occurs when the cancer forms in the lining surrounding the lung tissue. Peritoneal occurs when the cancer originates in the tissue surrounding the abdomen.
Only about 3,000 cases of mesothelioma are diagnosed each year in the U.S., making it a very rare form of cancer. Unfortunately, mesothelioma is extremely aggressive and one of the most (if not the most) deadliest cancer types. The overall 5-year survival rate for mesothelioma is only 12%.
Mesothelioma is Caused By Asbestos Exposure
Mesothelioma is a very unique type of cancer because it is only caused by exposure to asbestos. Asbestos exposure is the only definitive cause of mesothelioma. Only people who are exposed to asbestos fibers develop mesothelioma.
As airborne asbestos fibers are inhaled or ingested, they accumulate inside the body and never go away. Eventually, the accumulated fibers become embedded in the tissue and lining of the lungs, abdomen, or other organs. Once lodged in this tissue, the asbestos fibers cause chronic irritation, inflammation, and scarring. Over time, these sites of chronic inflammation and scarring from the asbestos fibers form mesothelioma tumors.
The latency period between exposure to asbestos and the development of mesothelioma is very long. It can take 15 or 20 years for the asbestos accumulations inside the body to form into mesothelioma. In many cases, however, the latency period can be even longer.
Who Was Exposed to Asbestos?
Between 1940 and 1979, an estimated 27 million workers in the U.S. were exposed to airborne asbestos particles in an occupational setting. After 1979, new laws and regulations greatly limited the use of and occupational exposure to asbestos.
Almost anyone who worked in a blue-collar, industrial job prior to 1980 was potentially exposed to asbestos. Those occupations or trades with the highest risk of asbestos exposure included:
|Mining||Steamfitters / Pipefitters|
|Shipbuilding||Electrical Generation (Boilers)|
Asbestos Mesothelioma Lawsuits
Asbestos litigation is the legal process through which victims and their families affected by asbestos-related illnesses seek compensation for their injuries. The history of asbestos litigation in the United States is long and complex, dating back to the early 20th century when the dangers of asbestos were first recognized.
First Asbestos Lawsuit in 1920s
The first recorded lawsuit relating to asbestos exposure was filed, believe it or not, in 1929. But the litigation died out until asbestos lawsuits began getting filed in massive numbers, starting in the 70s. Plaintiffs began filing lawsuits against companies that manufactured or used asbestos-containing products, alleging that they had been exposed to the mineral on the job and suffered serious health problems as a result.
Thousands of Asbestos Settlements
In the early years of asbestos litigation, many companies were able to successfully defend themselves against claims by plaintiffs. However, as evidence of the health risks associated with asbestos exposure continued to mount, companies began to face an increasing number of lawsuits, and many started to settle claims out of court in massive numbers. Fairly or unfairly, many of those first-generation asbestos lawyers became billionaires.
One of the earliest and most high-profile asbestos settlements was reached in the case of Johns-Manville Corporation in 1982. Johns-Manville, a major producer of asbestos-containing products, was facing thousands of lawsuits from individuals and families affected by asbestos-related illnesses. The company eventually settled the claims and established a trust fund to compensate victims, which helped to set a precedent for other companies facing similar claims.
In the years that followed, many other companies also settled asbestos claims, either through the court system or through alternative dispute resolution mechanisms. Some of the largest settlements reached in asbestos cases include those involving companies such as Owens-Illinois, Pittsburgh Corning, and W.R. Grace.
In response to the increasing number of lawsuits, several companies formed the Asbestos Claims Facility (ACF) in 1986, which was designed to centralize the process of handling asbestos claims and provide a mechanism for resolving claims more efficiently. However, the ACF was not able to manage the growing number of claims, and many companies were forced to file for bankruptcy as a result of the high costs associated with asbestos litigation.
Despite these efforts, asbestos litigation continued to escalate throughout the 1990s and 2000s, with thousands of individuals filing lawsuits against companies that had exposed them to asbestos. By the early 2000s, the number of pending asbestos cases had reached hundreds of thousands, leading to a backlog in the court system and a growing concern about the sustainability of the tort system.
In response to the growing crisis, several proposals were put forward to reform the asbestos litigation system, including the creation of a federal trust fund to compensate victims, the establishment of alternative dispute resolution mechanisms, and the imposition of restrictions on the filing of asbestos claims.
Federal Trust Fund Never Came to Pass
In 2005, the Fairness in Asbestos Injury Resolution Act (FAIR Act) was proposed, which would have established a federal trust fund to compensate asbestos victims and provide a mechanism for resolving claims more efficiently. However, the FAIR Act was not enacted into law, and asbestos litigation has continued to be a major issue in the United States to this day.
Despite the challenges, many individuals and families affected by asbestos-related illnesses have been able to secure compensation for their injuries through the legal process. However, the high costs associated with asbestos litigation and the slow pace of the court system have led to widespread frustration and concern among plaintiffs, victims, and their families.
Asbestos Lawsuits in 2023
In recent years, the number of asbestos verdicts and settlements has declined dramatically, as many companies have reached settlements or gone bankrupt as a result of the high costs associated with asbestos litigation. However, the legacy of asbestos exposure continues to impact individuals and families affected by asbestos-related illnesses, and many are still seeking compensation for their injuries through the legal process.
You have also seen the endless Camp Lejuene advertising. But asbestos lawyers continue to bring claims
- Our asbestos lawyers are seeing more mesothelioma cement lawsuits in 2023
Who Qualifies for a Mesothelioma Lawsuit?
If you have been diagnosed with mesothelioma (or if your deceased family member was diagnosed) you are automatically qualified to bring an asbestos lawsuit. Mesothelioma is rare cancer that is only caused by exposure to asbestos. This means that anyone diagnosed with mesothelioma is presumptively eligible to bring an asbestos lawsuit. The estate or surviving family members of someone who died from mesothelioma may also be eligible to bring an asbestos lawsuit for wrongful death.
Is It Too Late to File Your Asbestos Lawsuit?
Anyone with mesothelioma has a potential product liability lawsuit. The only question is whether the applicable statute of limitations has expired, in which case the asbestos lawsuit would be legally barred.
The statute of limitations varies in each state, but it is typically between 2-5 years from the “date of discovery.” In mesothelioma cases, the date of discovery is almost always going to be the date that the mesothelioma was diagnosed. Mesothelioma is uniquely linked to asbestos exposure. Therefore, when someone is diagnosed with mesothelioma they are on constructive notice of their potential asbestos claim and the clocks starts ticking.
If you are unsure, call an asbestos lawyer just to get an idea of the deadline to file a lawsuit.
Mesothelioma Lawsuit Settlement Amounts
Mesothelioma lawsuits are potentially very high-value cases because the disease is so aggressive. In the early days of asbestos litigation, mesothelioma cases that went to trial often resulted in massive multi-million dollar verdicts for the plaintiff. Things are somewhat different these days because almost all asbestos cases settle out of court. In many cases, trial is not an option because the applicable defendants went bankrupt years ago.
Today, most mesothelioma asbestos lawsuits settle quickly, with an average settlement payout between $1,000,000 and $2,000,000. For cases in which the plaintiff’s asbestos exposure can be reliably linked back to a specific product that was manufactured by a company that is still around, the average settlement value is much higher.
Mesothelioma Settlements & Verdicts
Below are summaries of reported settlements and trial verdicts in recent mesothelioma asbestos cases. These cases demonstrate the very high-value mesothelioma asbestos cases have at trial, which is one of the primary reasons most mesothelioma cases settle.
- O’Reilly v US Steel Corp. (Illinois 2022) $7,217,656: former pipefitter died at age 62 from pleural mesothelioma and his family brought a wrongful death action against a large group of asbestos defendants. Some of the defendants settled, but U.S. Steel and Fisher Controls Intl. went to trial. Jury awarded $7.2 million, but the award was reduced to $3.7 million based on comparative negligence.
- Ibarra v Ameron International (Oregon 2022) $30,000,000: decedent was exposed to asbestos when he worked at a factory in 1974. In 2021 he died from mesothelioma and his spouse brought a wrongful death action. Jury awarded $30 million.
- Constantine v Lenox Instrument Co. (Pennsylvania 2022) $2,218,415: decedent was exposed to asbestos from 1972 to 1981 while working as a draftsmen designer on jet engines for the Navy. In 2019 he died of mesothelioma. The jury awarded $2.2 million to his spouse for wrongful death.
- Kraemer v Lone Star Inc. (Washington 2021) $10,000,000: plaintiff was a 79-year-old retired school principal diagnosed with pleural mesothelioma. Plaintiff’s father worked as an insulator at naval ship yards during WWII and plaintiff was exposed to asbestos as a child from his father’s work clothes.
- Cowger v Qualitex Co. (Illinois 2021) $23,000,000: plaintiff was exposed to asbestos when she worked in an industrial laundry during the 1970s. She later developed mesothelioma. Jury in Chicago awarded $23 million.
- Mada v Cincinnati Inc. (California 2021) $710,000: former sheet metal worker died from mesothelioma. Defendant manufactured machines that the decedent operated at work and those machines contained asbestos friction parts. Verdict was lower because defendant was only found 5% at fault.
- Jennings v Honeywell International (Ohio 2021) $10,657,189: former mechanic was exposed to asbestos in brake pads manufactured by defendant Honeywell (f/k/a Bendix Corporation) and later died of mesothelioma. The estate settled with several other defendants before going to trial.
Contact Us About Your Asbestos Mesothelioma Lawsuit
If you (or a family member) have been diagnosed with mesothelioma and want to get compensation, contact our national asbestos lawyers today for a free consultation at 800-553-8082 or get a free online consultation.