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How We Got Here: Key Asbestos Litigation Milestones

The first asbestos litigation milestone was probably in 1899, when scientists conclusively linked asbestos exposure to lung disease. The next milestone came in the 1920s when the first victims filed asbestos exposure lawsuits. Mesothelioma lawsuits followed several years later, beginning in the 1960s. The asbestos health coverup had completely unraveled by the 1990s.

As outlined below, the litigation environment has changed since then. Large mesothelioma settlements are no longer available for the asking. So, only the best nationwide mesothelioma lawyer can obtain maximum compensation for your serious injuries. This compensation usually includes money for economic losses, such as medical bills, and noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering. Substantial punitive damages are usually available in these cases as well.

Borel v. Fibreboard Paper Products Corporation (1973)

This case opened the door for injured workers to file civil claims instead of workers’ compensation claims. Moreover, it introduced the concept of strict liability for asbestos exposure injuries.

Most states have very strong workers’ compensation exclusive remedy laws. These laws force injured workers to go through the workers’ compensation system to obtain financial benefits.

However, by design, workers’ compensation usually applies to workplace accidents, like falls and car crashes, which the employer could not prevent. That’s not the case with asbestos exposure.

The court’s other ruling, strict liability for injuries related to the sale of a dangerous product, makes the choice easier in many cases. Because of this rule, asbestos exposure victims must only prove cause or a connection between the exposure and the injury in civil court.

Metro-North Commuter Railroad Company v. Buckley (1997)

Between 1981 and 1993, Republican presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush appointed thousands of conservative, business-friendly federal judges. So, beginning in the 1990s, the asbestos exposure litigation environment changed.

Buckley was one of the early examples. The Supreme Court ruled that victims who showed no physical signs of illness weren’t entitled to compensation for emotional distress.

In Re Garlock Sealing Technologies, LLC (2014)

This case was a major black eye for nationwide mesothelioma lawyers and made it much harder for honest lawyers to obtain compensation for deserving victims.

Garlock, a huge asbestos provider, filed for bankruptcy in 2010. Initially, Garlock, whose products had poisoned tens of thousands of people over the years, faced a $1.25 billion judgment.

Garlock had paid generous settlements in the past, which was probably one reason it went bankrupt. The plaintiffs’ attorneys used these prior settlements to calculate the aforementioned damages figure.

The bankruptcy judge thought that approach was fishy. So, he scrutinized 15 cases. At a subsequent hearing, he concluded that attorneys for the asbestos victims "withheld evidence that their clients were exposed to asbestos products from other companies."

The judge used even stronger language in his final ruling. "The last 10 years of its participation in the tort system was infected by the manipulation of exposure evidence by plaintiffs and their lawyers. That tactic, though not uniform, had a profound impact on a number of Garlock's trials and many of its settlements such that the amounts recovered were inflated.” Based on this finding, he reduced the victims’ damages to $125 million.

To avoid a similar outcome, solid evidence, a point we touched on above, is the name of the game for asbestos exposure lawyers. The heady days of Borel are over. Courts now examine these claims very closely. If a lawyer rushes a case to court or takes shortcuts during the process, victims pay a hefty price.

Connect With a Dedicated Attorney

Mesothelioma victims need and deserve significant compensation. For a free consultation with an experienced nationwide mesothelioma lawyer, contact the Throneberry Law Group. Attorneys can connect victims with doctors, even if they have no insurance or money.

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You are the reason my mother was able to cope with losing a loved one. You and your staff are always helpful and go above and beyond to help. You have been great to my family and especially my mother. My mother would always come out of your office with a peace of mind. R.S.
We are so appreciative of the results Michael Throneberry got for us! Michael Throneberry and the attorneys we worked with were focused on our peace of mind and seemed to care for my family and me as if we were family. They truly get it. We were thrilled with the result and would recommend this firm to anyone. M.S.
During one of my family's darkest and trying times, Michael Throneberry was there to provide help. His personal experience with mesothelioma made certain that he advised us like family. Thank you, you are wonderful. Do yourself a favor and let him help you during this trying time. He is a true 10 on a scale of 1 to 10. T.S.
Michael Throneberry gave me a whole new outlook on attorneys'! A very caring person who was more concerned with my health than a case. Truly unexpected! He explained possible conditions in english and even found the right doctors in my area. Prepared me for the right questions to ask the doctors so that I can understand my illness better. A great person and a great human being! Thank you. Greg