Thousands of Americans are diagnosed with mesothelioma each year (a form of cancer caused by asbestos) making it the longest mass tort in history.
Asbestos is the longest mass tort in American history, with sadly no end in sight. Thousands of Americans are still diagnosed with mesothelioma each year, a fatal form of lung cancer caused by inhaling asbestos fibers.
Despite knowing as early as the 1930s that asbestos caused cancer, companies continue to use it. The asbestos industry has paid millions to shape pro-asbestos research, helping to thwart multiple attempts to ban the carcinogen in the U.S.
Mesothelioma patients and their loved ones have filed lawsuits against asbestos manufacturers and retailers.
Companies Knowingly Endangered Workers for Decades
Though it’s been known for years that asbestos causes cancer, the asbestos industry continued to promote it. Asbestos was especially popular between the 1940s and 1970s as a cheap form of fire and chemical-resistant insulation. The mineral was also used in everything from naval ships and textiles to auto parts and talc-based products.
When asbestos fibers are inhaled, they stick to the mucus-lining of the lungs for years, eventually creating cancerous cells. Often, mesothelioma symptoms won’t present themselves for 15 to 20 years. When mesothelioma is diagnosed though, it is extremely aggressive; half of patients will succumb to the disease within 18 months.
Dr. Nicholas Ashford refers to asbestos as “the most criminal industry.”
Companies that knew asbestos was killing its workers continued using the mineral hoping to eke out as much work as possible from their innocent employees. An internal memo from Bendix Corporation dating back to 1966, asked, “If you have enjoyed a good life while working with asbestos products, why not die from it?”
Because of this mass cover-up, Dr. Nicholas Ashford, former chair of the National Advisory Committee on Occupational Safety & Health, refers to asbestos as “the most criminal industry.”
Ford Spends $40 Million on Pro-Asbestos Research
Sadly, this deception isn’t restricted to the history books. Frustrated with losing lawsuits to mesothelioma patients, in 2001, Ford spent $40 million on pro-asbestos research. Ford-funded researchers and expert testimonies argued that auto mechanics (who were exposed to asbestos-contaminated brake dust) were not at increased risk of developing mesothelioma.
Ford still maintains that mechanics were safe from asbestos exposure. In their 2014 annual report, they state that “the scientific evidence confirms our long-standing position that there is no increased risk of asbestos-related disease as a result of exposure to the type of asbestos formerly used in the brakes on our vehicles.”
The industry also claims that some forms of asbestos are safe. They argue that chrysotile asbestos (the most common form of the mineral used today) can be used safely under controlled environments.
The World Health Organization, however, says all forms of asbestos cause cancer.
The Longest Mass Tort in History
Mesothelioma patients started filing workers comp claims as early as the 1960’s. A mass district litigation (MDL) in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, initially formed in 1991, has overseen the majority of recent mesothelioma lawsuits.
To date, it’s estimated that more than 8,500 defendants and 700,000 claimants have been involved in asbestos-related lawsuits. Experts predict that asbestos litigation will reach $200 to $265 billion in compensation.
Bankruptcy Trust Funds Award Billions in Compensation
The volume of high settlements and verdicts associated with mesothelioma lawsuits has bankrupted the majority of asbestos manufacturers. To date, 100 companies who formerly manufactured or used asbestos have declared bankruptcy.
However, even if the company responsible for a patient’s mesothelioma is no longer in business, it doesn’t mean that the patient can’t receive compensation. Many of these companies created bankruptcy funds to settle asbestos-related lawsuits.
Asbestos trust funds have awarded nearly $20 billion to claimants.
The Manville Corporation, the leading asbestos manufacturer of its time, established the first of these trust funds in 1988. When the company declared bankruptcy in 1982, it was the largest and richest company at the time to ever do so. Their asbestos trust fund paid $4.3 billion to claimants as of 2013.
To date, 60 trusts exist, which together have awarded nearly $20 billion to claimants.
Libby, Montana Declared the First Asbestos Public Emergency
The company that likely has the most blood on its hands is W.R. Grace and Company. The company owned a vermiculite ore mine in Libby, Montana from 1963 to 1990. The mine released asbestos dust, contaminating the town’s air, soil, and water.
The town has since been declared a public health emergency by the EPA, marking the first asbestos-related health emergency. An estimated 400 people have died from exposure, and 1,750 have suffered from an asbestos-related disease.
W.R. Grace and Company has since faced 270,000 asbestos-related lawsuits. They filed for bankruptcy in 2001, setting aside $4 billion in an asbestos trust.
Montana agencies were also held liable for failing to warn residents of the dangers posed by the mine. In 2011, a $43 million settlement was reached to compensate miners and their families.
Mesothelioma Settlements Average $1 Million for Plaintiffs
The average mesothelioma settlement is between $1 million and $1.4 million, and the average verdict is about $2.4 million, according to Mealey’s Litigation Report.
However, many lawsuits have resulted in much higher settlements and verdicts for mesothelioma sufferers. Some of the most notable cases include:
- Halliburton: In 2000, the company paid $4 billion to settle 300,000 cases for exposing employees to asbestos on the job.
- U.S. Steel: Roby Worthington was awarded $250 million in compensation after developing mesothelioma from working for the company.
- Union Carbide, United States Gypsum, et. al.: In 2000, 18 asbestos manufacturers paid $160 million to settle 4,000 claims filed in Mississippi court.
Who Can Be Held Liable for Mesothelioma?
The following parties are typically among those held liable in mesothelioma lawsuits:
- Asbestos manufacturers
- Manufacturers of asbestos products
- Building owners
- Retailers that sold asbestos-containing products
Who is Eligible for a Lawsuit?
Anyone who has mesothelioma may be eligible for a lawsuit. Survivors of mesothelioma victims may also be eligible for compensation for pain and suffering and other expenses.
What Can I Recover From a Mesothelioma Lawsuit?
A lawsuit can provide compensation for:
- Medical bills and related costs
- Loss of wages
- Pain and suffering
- Funeral expenses
ClassAction.com Can Help
Those suffering from mesothelioma have many legal options available to them, and navigating them shouldn’t be a complicated or burdensome process. ClassAction.com attorneys have recovered millions of dollars for hundreds of mesothelioma victims across the United States, making them uniquely qualified to handle mesothelioma litigation. Contact us today for a free, no-obligation legal review.