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Mesothelioma Lawsuits & Settlements

Offered by Weitz & Luxenberg P.C.

For many decades, millions of Americans were exposed to asbestos, in large part due to the negligence of companies who concealed their knowledge of the dangers associated with exposure. Years or even decades later, that exposure could lead to several asbestos-related illnesses, the most severe of which is mesothelioma.

Billions of dollars have been awarded to hundreds of thousands of victims over the years, and more people are diagnosed every day. If you or a loved one developed mesothelioma, you need strong, experienced legal representation to pursue the compensation you deserve, whether through a negotiated settlement or a mesothelioma lawsuit.

The link between asbestos exposure and mesothelioma

Mesothelioma is a malignant cancer, usually occurring in the lining of the lungs or abdomen, that has only one known cause: exposure to asbestos. While the dangers of asbestos are now broadly known, well into the 20th century, products containing asbestos were commonly used in a variety of applications, including roofing, insulation, fireproofing, soundproofing, insulation of boilers, adhesives, plastics, and floor tiles.

Companies that mined asbestos or manufactured asbestos products were aware of the dangers as early as the 1920s, but for decades, they hid those dangers and put hundreds of thousands of people at risk. Even today, the material can be found in many older structures, but if it remains undisturbed, the risk of exposure is often minimal. However, when asbestos degrades or is disturbed – for instance, during repair or demolition work – the risk of exposure and devastating disease increases.

Occupations that were most at risk for exposure to asbestos include:

  • Firefighters
  • Insulators
  • Construction workers
  • Industrial workers
  • Mill workers
  • Power plant workers
  • Shipyard workers
  • Railroad workers
  • Engineers
  • Demolition crews
  • Home services and tradesmen (e.g. electricians, carpenters, HVAC)

Many people were exposed to asbestos while serving in the military. Indeed, about 1 in 3 people diagnosed with mesothelioma in the United States are veterans.

Timeline of asbestos litigation

The first legal victory for a person with mesothelioma was Borel v. Fibreboard Paper Products Corporation in 1973. The plaintiff, Clarence Borel, was an insulator who developed mesothelioma and asbestosis after 33 years of exposure to asbestos. The defendants in his lawsuit were numerous manufacturers of asbestos insulation.

Following the Borel case, numerous lawsuits were filed against employers and manufacturers in courts across the country on behalf of shipyard workers, industrial workers, and others who were exposed to asbestos on the job, including military veterans. Starting in the 1980s, many defendant companies in asbestos litigation declared bankruptcy and put aside money for present and future asbestos-related liabilities. Since mesothelioma may not appear for many years after exposure, some of the funds put aside in those proceedings are still available to mesothelioma patients as they come forward.

That funding is critical because the scope of the problem is vast. As many as 11 million people may have been exposed to asbestos between 1940 and 1978 – which may have led to as many as a million cases of pleural mesothelioma. Thousands of cases are discovered every year, primarily among men over the age of 60. In addition, people who were exposed to asbestos may develop other illnesses such as lung cancer and asbestosis.

Between the 1960s and late 1990s, class action lawsuits (that is, lawsuits filed on behalf of a group of “similarly situated” people) were common in mesothelioma litigation. However, over time, mesothelioma cancer attorneys and judges recognized that class actions were not usually the best way to resolve these matters. Each asbestos exposure case is unique, and it is uncommon for a group of plaintiffs to have the same type of exposure. While there are some consolidated cases, most mesothelioma lawsuits today are filed as individual lawsuits on behalf of a single plaintiff.

Who is eligible to file a mesothelioma lawsuit?

There are two primary types of lawsuits that can be filed in connection with a mesothelioma diagnosis. A mesothelioma personal injury lawsuit is a legal action taken while the person diagnosed with mesothelioma is still living. In this type of lawsuit, the plaintiff is the injured person, while the defendant is typically a former employer or a manufacturer of products containing asbestos.

A mesothelioma wrongful death lawsuit is filed by the personal representative of the estate of someone who passed away from mesothelioma. The personal representative is usually a close family member, such as a surviving spouse or adult child. The estate may also be able to continue litigation initiated during the plaintiff’s lifetime if the plaintiff dies of mesothelioma while legal proceedings are ongoing.

Filing a mesothelioma lawsuit is a complex process. It’s not always clear which court has jurisdiction or which time limits apply in each plaintiff’s situation. That’s one of the reasons it’s so important to work with an experienced mesothelioma attorney.

How much is a mesothelioma case worth?

A mesothelioma claim may include compensation for medical expenses such as surgeries and hospitalization costs, lost wages, and most importantly, pain and suffering due to the disease. The average mesothelioma settlement is in the range of $1 million to $1.5 million, and the average verdict at trial is between $5 million and $11 million, but that is an average, not a guarantee of results. Each mesothelioma claim is highly specific to the individual victim and the effects the disease has had on their life.

Some of the factors that affect mesothelioma settlement amounts include:

  • The type of mesothelioma or other asbestos disease
  • The plaintiff’s expenses, such as medical treatment, lost income, and pain and The number of defendants (asbestos companies responsible for exposure)
  • The duration of exposure
  • The plaintiff’s age

An additional complicating factor in mesothelioma claims is the availability of funds. While some companies that used or manufactured asbestos products are still in business, many have closed down or declared bankruptcy over the years. In these situations, trust funds have been created to compensate additional mesothelioma victims as they come forward. Some of those trusts are fully funded and can pay full value for mesothelioma claims, but others have been depleted and the remaining funds must be rationed, potentially reducing the payout to each remaining claimant.

For veterans who were exposed to asbestos while serving in the military, asbestos cancers like mesothelioma are considered 100% disabling and thus qualify for the maximum level of VA disability compensation. Depending on the extent of their disability, veterans with mesothelioma may qualify for other VA benefits as well. Veterans may also be able to file mesothelioma lawsuits or trust fund claims against private manufacturers of asbestos products used by the military, or if they were exposed to asbestos at civilian jobs in addition to their military service.

One of the most important jobs of a mesothelioma attorney is to review the situation and the available funds and find the right path to maximize their client’s recovery. The sooner you talk to an experienced lawyer, the better.

Weitz & Luxenberg P.C. is a national mesothelioma law firm that has settled many mesothelioma cases.

Our mesothelioma verdicts & settlements.

  • $75 million verdict – Manhattan, NY
    A jury awarded Weitz & Luxenberg clients, Marlena and Ed Robaey, a $75 million verdict after decades of asbestos exposure led to Mrs. Robaey’s mesothelioma. This is the largest single asbestos case verdict ever achieved in New York.
  • $190 million verdict – Manhattan, NY
    In the largest group asbestos verdict in New York history, Weitz & Luxenberg’s efforts on behalf of 5 workers who helped build and renovate New York City, resulted in a staggering $190 million verdict. The 11-week trial was especially hard fought and required 18 months of preparation.
  • $75 million verdict – Manhattan, NY
    In a landmark 1990 verdict, where Weitz & Luxenberg represented 36 former Brooklyn Navy Yard workers, all stricken with asbestos disease, precedents were set that then enabled thousands of injured workers to benefit from justice and just compensation.

How much time do you have to file a mesothelioma lawsuit?

The timing of mesothelioma claims is tricky because mesothelioma usually develops 10 to 40 years after asbestos exposure. Every state has a statute of limitations (legal time limit) that applies to injury claims, but that time limit is tolled (paused) until mesothelioma is actually diagnosed. Depending on the state, you may have anywhere from one to five years from the date of discovery to file a claim. If a loved one died of mesothelioma, you should have one to three years from the date of death to file a wrongful death claim, again depending on the applicable state law.

The key takeaway is to get legal advice right away. The applicable time limits vary from state to state, and depending on the circumstances (for instance, if you were exposed working at jobs in multiple states), it may not even be immediately clear which state’s statute of limitations applies to your claim. The sooner you talk to an experienced mesothelioma attorney about your situation, the better.

If you’ve been diagnosed, talk to an experienced attorney

Mesothelioma cases are highly complex, detail-oriented legal matters. They may involve an in-depth review of medical records, employment records, legal research, and more to establish the full extent of the damage done. Because of the long gap between exposure and diagnosis, the level of investigation required to document exposure is substantial. Mesothelioma lawyers may need to dive into decades-old purchase order histories, track down witnesses, and review other records to prove that products containing asbestos were used in a particular location at the time the victim was working there.

The manufacturers of asbestos products have poured millions of dollars into research downplaying the effects of asbestos exposure and challenging the scientific consensus on the issue. Standing up to those companies and their attorneys is a difficult task, and you need a law firm with the experience and resources to see it through.

Mesothelioma attorneys work on a contingency fee basis. That means there is no up-front cost to hire a lawyer, and you pay nothing out of pocket. If you win your case, the fee is a percentage of the recovery. If there is no recovery, there is also no fee.

If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with mesothelioma, or if you lost a loved one to the disease, we strongly encourage you to speak with a mesothelioma attorney today about your legal options.

Mesothelioma Assistance
Weitz & Luxenberg P.C.

Weitz & Luxenberg P.C. is an experienced, nationwide "mass torts" injury law firm based in NYC, with $19 billion in total verdicts and settlements and over 55,000 clients. They ar...