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Articles Posted in Mesothelioma Court Rulings & Legislation

A mesothelioma wrongful death claim is a claim that is filed after a victim passes away. It is a type of claim that allows surviving family members to recover compensation from negligent parties, such as manufacturers of asbestos-contaminated products. Mesothelioma wrongful death claims are typically filed against individuals and companies who knew that certain products were dangerous but failed to give a warning. The following is more on mesothelioma wrongful death claims.

Who is Allowed to File a Mesothelioma Wrongful Death Claim?

In a mesothelioma personal injury claim, the plaintiff, that is, the person bringing the claim and seeking compensation, is usually the patient who has suffered harm because of the negligence of another party. When it comes to wrongful death claims, the patient is not the one bringing the claim and seeking compensation as they are not alive.

After two weeks of in-person trial, a Los Angeles County jury awarded a 64-year-old woman diagnosed with mesothelioma $43 million on May 20, 2022. This verdict is among the largest seen in recent years. The woman, who was diagnosed with mesothelioma in 2019, blamed Algoma Hardwoods Inc. for her condition.

According to the evidence presented, the 64-year-old California woman never directly worked with the toxic substance known as asbestos. However, her husband used to work in a capacity that exposed him to asbestos. He worked with doors that contained asbestos. The asbestos dust from the doors got stuck in his skin, hair, and clothes, and he brought this dust home. Even though the woman sometimes assisted her husband on-site, most of the asbestos exposure she suffered was from the asbestos dust her husband brought home. According to a family representative, the 64-year-old woman suffered asbestos exposure while doing her husband’s laundry. Also, just being inside the home exposed her to asbestos.

From 1977 to 1980, Algoma made fire-resistant asbestos-contaminated doors. The jury found the company 50% liable for the 64-year-old woman’s mesothelioma. The jury then assessed comparative fault against other defendants. The following is a breakdown of the percentage of responsibility each defendant was awarded;

If you recently got a mesothelioma diagnosis or lost a loved one to mesothelioma, you are likely thinking of filing a claim to receive compensation. Mesothelioma occurs after a person is exposed to asbestos, and asbestos exposure is usually caused by negligence. So, it is only fair that mesothelioma victims and surviving loved ones of deceased mesothelioma victims receive compensation.

If you are thinking of filing a mesothelioma claim, you need to know about a law known as the “statute of limitations.” This is a law that limits the amount of time you have to bring your mesothelioma case to court. However, understanding the statute of limitations for mesothelioma cases is not that easy as different factors could affect the amount of time you have to file your lawsuit. For that reason, you need to consult an attorney to ensure you do not wait too long to file your claim.

Understanding the Statute of Limitations for Mesothelioma Cases

Asbestos is a dangerous mineral that causes life-threatening diseases such as mesothelioma. Because of this, there are individuals and organizations out there dedicated to preventing asbestos exposure through advocacy, education, and community. One of these organizations is the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization (ADAO). In 2020, the organization won the Right to Know Lawsuit. Afterward, ADAO won a settlement agreement with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). According to ADAO and its partners, the agreement would make sure the EPA conducts its work on asbestos with enough information. Recently, the agency published a related proposal. Here is more information about this proposal.

EPA’s Proposal

The EPA recently proposed a rule that would require importers, manufacturers, and processors of asbestos and asbestos-contaminated products to report all asbestos uses for the last four years. According to the proposed rule, manufacturers or processors of asbestos-contaminated products would need to share information about all asbestos uses, the quantity of asbestos used, and where exposure has occurred. Currently, much of this information is not a requirement. The proposal also covers articles with unintended impurities like asbestos-contaminated talc products.

The NJ appeals court recently upheld a sanction against Ford in a mesothelioma case involving second-hand asbestos exposure. When Mrs. A.C (a name used for purposes of this article) was diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma, her family filed a lawsuit against Ford Motor Company, her husband’s former employer. According to the family, Mrs. A.C developed mesothelioma after inhaling asbestos fibers from her husband’s clothing during the 30 years that he worked as a service manager for the motor dealerships. During the trial, Ford Motor Company withheld evidence in violation of discovery rules, which led to the court imposing a significant sanction. Ford appealed the decision and the sanction, but the NJ state appeals court refused to set the sanctions aside.

For many years, Mrs. A.C’s family had tried to obtain the training manuals for Ford so that they could prove to the court that the company had not warned its workers about the dangers of asbestos in brake dust. Unfortunately, the family was not able to obtain those materials. Instead of producing the information, a corporate representative testified that he could not locate it. He said that none of the manuals were found.

In response, Mrs. A.C’s attorney confronted the representative with a copy of the manual. After the confrontation, the representative confessed that he had seen the manual before and even answered questions about it in previous asbestos cases. After learning that the representative had withheld evidence, the court imposed the sanction that went beyond the jury’s $800,000 verdict.

Usually, cases that involve legal and factual issues require depositions. Because mesothelioma cases involve such matters, they require depositions. For most people, the topic of depositions is one they do not understand quite well. Even if you have experienced a deposition in another setting, you might find a mesothelioma deposition different. This article shares some basics on mesothelioma depositions.

What is a Mesothelioma Deposition?

When a case involves legal and factual issues, all named parties have the right to conduct a formal investigation to find out more. Discovery comes in many forms, one of the most common being depositions. A deposition involves taking an oral statement of a plaintiff or witness before trial, under oath. Therefore, a mesothelioma deposition generally consists of taking a verbal statement of the patient and people with knowledge about how the patient developed their illness.

California has allowed victims’ pain and suffering damages to die with them for decades. In other words, California has long barred surviving family members from obtaining pain and suffering damages. Usually, pain and suffering damages are the greatest sum of money at stake in a civil suit. For a very long time, California law limited the damages that surviving family members could recover to the loss or damage that the decedent incurred before their death, including punitive damages that the decedent could have been entitled to recover if they had lived.

Finally, in January 2022, amendments to the California law that long barred surviving family members from recovering pain and suffering damages went into effect. California’s new law now allows surviving family members to recover pain and suffering damages on behalf of their deceased loved ones. Senate Bill No. 447 (SB 447) increased the number of payable damages to include pain and suffering damages.

Before the passing of SB 447, liable parties used to take advantage of the fact that surviving family members could not recover pain and suffering damages, which often resulted in multi-million-dollar payouts. When companies and individuals were sued, they used to drag out the trial, hoping that the plaintiff would die, allowing them to save money. To some, the previous California law rewarded companies and individuals for bad behavior (prolonging court procedures). Hopefully, SB 447 will end the injustice by allowing family members to pursue suffering damages even if their loved one dies before their claims are resolved.

Secondary asbestos exposure, also known as second-hand asbestos exposure, is when someone who works directly with asbestos or asbestos-contaminated material carries asbestos fibers home and exposes their household members to those fibers. When a worker brings home asbestos fibers, they put their loved ones at risk of developing asbestos-related illnesses such as mesothelioma and asbestosis. Secondary asbestos exposure is especially frequent among women and children, although men too can fall victim to this kind of asbestos exposure.

Before the dangerous effects of asbestos became known, and before strict regulations were passed, people working with asbestos often brought home asbestos fibers in their person. However, over the decades, cases of second-hand asbestos exposure have reduced. Because of this reduction, one might wonder why courts are seeing many secondary asbestos exposure lawsuits. One main reason is that doctors are getting better at diagnosing asbestos-related diseases, such as mesothelioma. Years ago, if an individual without obvious asbestos exposure exhibited mesothelioma-like symptoms, they would have most likely been overlooked. However, today, because of the advancement in science and medicine, medical professionals are able to figure out if indeed a person without any obvious asbestos exposure is suffering from mesothelioma.

Mesothelioma Has a Long Latency Period

Most juries spend weeks hearing evidence about how a victim developed mesothelioma and debating whether negligence played a part in the victim developing the disease. However, unlike most juries who disagree on evidence and whether negligence was involved, the Wisconsin jury in a recently decided mesothelioma case disagreed on the amount of compensation to be awarded to the victim’s family. While in the end, the jury members agreed that Pabst should pay the victim’s family more than $26 million, two of the jury members disagreed, arguing that the company should be made to pay much more.

The family of the mesothelioma victim, a grandfather who worked at Pabst Blue Ribbon’s Milwaukee Brewery, initiated the lawsuit. During his time at Pabst, the mesothelioma victim was exposed to asbestos. Pabst Blue Ribbon’s Milwaukee Brewery employed the mesothelioma victim in the 1970s. It was during those years that the dangers of asbestos and its role in mesothelioma became well known. But, despite Pabst knowing the dangers of asbestos and its role in mesothelioma, the company did not take any steps to protect its workers. Pabst even let its workers get exposed to asbestos in the lunchroom. Pabst’s lunchroom was equipped with asbestos-contaminated pipes from which asbestos fell.

Initially, the family accused Pabst Blue Ribbon’s Milwaukee Brewery and Wisconsin Electric (another of the victim’s former employers) of failing to provide its workers with a safe working environment. After the original claim was filed, Wisconsin Electric decided to settle the case outside the court. On the other hand, Pabst insisted on going to court. The company argued against its own responsibility, which angered the jury.

Across separate settlements, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) commits to accelerate and strengthen asbestos risk reevaluation under the Toxic Substance Control Act (TSCA). On October 13, 2021, the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization (ADAO), an organization dedicated to preventing asbestos exposure, said that the organization and its allies had reached settlements with EPA regarding the toxic mineral that causes mesothelioma. These settlements come after a heated legal battle over a contentious risk assessment. ADAO and its allies have been pushing for a comprehensive second risk evaluation for asbestos for some time now and are glad they struck these settlements with the EPA. According to the president and co-founder of ADAO, Linda Reinstein, a more robust and comprehensive evaluation will better document the massive harm asbestos continues to cause in America.

As per the deal, the Environmental Protection Agency will finish the second risk assessment by December 1, 2024. The second risk evaluation is expected to address the deficiencies in the first risk evaluation. In an agreement, the EPA agreed to, among other things;

  • Expand its second risk evaluation to include all six asbestos fiber types instead of only chrysotile asbestos.
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