A growing number of Americans are pursue mesothelioma class action lawsuits or a mesothelioma settlement after a cancer diagnosis. Plaintiffs allege they were exposed to asbestos, most commonly on the job or through a product containing asbestos, leading to the development of mesothelioma, a particularly aggressive and dangerous form of cancer.
While some mesothelioma lawsuits end up going to a trial, many conclude with a mesothelioma settlement.
Types of Mesothelioma Settlements
Essentially, a mesothelioma settlement is a legal agreement made between the plaintiff or plaintiffs and the defendant or defendants that compensate the plaintiffs for their cancer. A settlement is an alternative way to settle a civil complaint without a trial. Defendants often prefer a settlement since it often does not require them to admit liability.
In many cases, a mesothelioma settlement is paid for personal injury lawsuits, providing the plaintiff compensation for the injury caused by asbestos exposure. In other cases, the mesothelioma lawsuit is filed over wrongful death, in which case the compensation is paid to the decedent’s family or estate.
How Much Can You Get For A Mesothelioma Settlement?
While a mesothelioma settlement is typically less than what the plaintiff could have received from a jury, it typically is a significant payout. The average mesothelioma settlement is between $1 million and $1.4 million. With a jury trial, there is no guarantee jurors will side with the plaintiff.
Settlement amounts can vary based on a number of factors, including medical expenses and lost wages, compensatory and punitive damages, company negligence, number of companies named in the lawsuit, jurisdiction, and more. Mesothelioma has limited treatment options once diagnosed. The guidance of an experienced mesothelioma attorney can help you determine the best approach for your case.
Mesothelioma Settlement Cases
Mesothelioma settlement amounts are generally kept private, with plaintiffs often signing confidentiality agreements. However, in some cases, settlement amounts may become public.
For instance, in 2005 in Illinois, US Steel was ordered to pay $250 million to the widow of a former steelworker who had died from asbestos mesothelioma, according to Asbestos.com. After the verdict was reached, but before it was announced, US Steel reached a settlement with the plaintiff. Though the exact figure isn’t known, it is believed to be significantly less than the award from the verdict.
After mass asbestos exposure from vermiculite mines rocked Libby, Montana, two major lawsuits each resulted in a mesothelioma settlement, one in 2011 for $43 million and another in 2017 for $25 million. Mesothelioma victims from Libby continue to file lawsuits, so future settlements are expected, according to The Guardian.
Why Would a Company Agree to a Mesothelioma Settlement?
Most mesothelioma diagnoses can be traced to asbestos exposure. Asbestos once was highly valued for its durability and heat and fire resistance. It was mined and used in insulation, brakes, shingles, flooring, roofing, ship-building, and many other endeavors.
Asbestos-based materials are not dangerous unless they crumble. In its decaying form, a shingle, floor tile, or brake pad can release tiny asbestos fibers into the air. These fibers are so light, they can stay airborne for long periods of time, meaning they can be swallowed or inhaled. Asbestos fibers reside deep in the lungs or stomach and cause irritation and inflammation that over the course of years can cause malignant mesothelioma tumors to develop, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Mesothelioma can develop anytime between 20 and 60 years after asbestos exposure. When plaintiffs can directly identify the work environment and/or materials that led to the exposure at home or on the job, a mesothelioma settlement is possible.
Certain risk factors may influence the chances of a person developing mesothelioma. The Mayo Clinic warns that anyone with a history of working with asbestos should know that they are at an increased risk for mesothelioma.
If you have lived with someone who worked with asbestos, you may have inadvertently been exposed to asbestos fibers brought home on skin and clothing. Once home, the person may have scattered the fibers when changing clothes or even by bringing a lunch box covered in asbestos dust into the home. These fibers could become airborne and be swallowed or breathed by other people who resided in the home.
If a parent, sibling, or child has received a mesothelioma diagnosis, you may be at increased risk of the disease due to genetic susceptibility.
In addition to mesothelioma caused by occupational exposure to asbestos, many claim they have been exposed to the dangerous material through common household products. Thousands of lawsuits have been filed against Johnson & Johnson and other manufacturers of talc-based baby powder by people who claim these products may be contaminated with asbestos.
As talc and asbestos are both mined in proximity, it may be possible for asbestos fibers to get into talc. When talc is then made into cosmetic products such as eye shadow, blush, or lipstick, or is used as a key ingredient in baby powder, consumers may unknowingly be exposed to asbestos. Unfortunately, many cosmetic products found to be contaminated with asbestos — including play makeup sets and baby powder — are marketed for children. Several children’s makeup sets sold at popular tween retailer Claire’s have been recalled for asbestos contamination.
Some baby powder has also been removed from the market. Although Johnson & Johnson claims its baby powder is safe and does not contain asbestos, the company announced it was removing its talc-based baby powder from the North American market in early 2020, according to CNN. Non-talc versions of the baby powder are still available for purchase in North America, and the talc version is available elsewhere in the world. By the time of the announcement, nearly 20,000 lawsuits had been filed against Johnson & Johnson regarding its potentially dangerous product. In addition to plaintiffs pursuing mesothelioma settlement awards, many lawsuits have been filed by plaintiffs claiming that the allegedly contaminated baby powder caused them to develop ovarian cancer.
Anyone who has had radiation therapy for cancer in the chest area may also be at an increased risk of developing mesothelioma.
Teacher Receives $850K Mesothelioma Settlement
A teacher diagnosed with mesothelioma will receive an $850,000 settlement from the Philadelphia School District, where she worked for 28 years, according to The Philadelphia Inquirer.
Lea DiRusso was a special education teacher at two elementary schools in South Philadelphia for nearly three decades. Both schools had documented issues with asbestos, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported.
DiRusso said she had to sweep away white dust that disintegrated from overhead asbestos-wrapped heating pipes in her classroom. She told The Inquirer the school supplied her with a broom to sweep up the dust, which she didn’t realize contained dangerous asbestos particles.
She had even used the pipes with the crumbling asbestos wrappings to hang pictures drawn and painted by her students. She said she never would have done so had she known she was disturbing asbestos every time.
The school buildings were nearly 100 years old, and DiRusso claimed the district never warned her of asbestos dangers lurking right in front of her.
DiRusso told the Inquirer she started to feel unwell in spring 2019. She had developed a large, hard abdomen, which doctors thought may be signs of menopause or a stomach ailment.
She was eventually diagnosed with peritoneal mesothelioma, cancer in the lining of the abdomen caused by swallowing asbestos fibers.
Last winter, DiRusso endured an hourslong surgery to remove her ovaries, uterus, and diseased areas of her abdominal lining, The Inquirer reported. Doctors also cut or burned out cancerous tumors found in her abdomen.
Are You Eligible?
There are a number of factors that can determine if you are eligible for settling a mesothelioma lawsuit. The strength of a mesothelioma claim is largely based on things like the plaintiff’s diagnosis, employment, medical history, and proof of the defendants’ negligence.
Agreeing to a settlement rather than going to a jury trial can save time — litigation can be drawn out for years, while a settlement agreement could bring an end to litigation in a matter of months.
You may also be able to file a claim with an asbestos trust for the victim’s compensation. Many companies have filed bankruptcy after coming under fire for manufacturing products containing asbestos and have since been ordered to create funds to compensate asbestos victims. Claims to these funds are allowed typically processed within months and going through a company’s bankruptcy trust fund, which plaintiffs to avoid the court system entirely. The claims usually settle in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Filing an Asbestos Lawsuit
If you or someone you love has been diagnosed with mesothelioma or another cancer after exposure to asbestos, you may be able to file an asbestos cancer lawsuit. Of course, filing a lawsuit cannot take away the pain and suffering caused by a cancer diagnosis, nor can it bring a loved one back to life, but it can at least help to alleviate the financial burden incurred by medical expenses, lost wagesand more.
Filing a lawsuit and pursuing a mesothelioma settlement can be a daunting prospect, especially in the wake of a cancer, so Top Class Actions has laid the groundwork by connecting you with an experienced attorney. Consulting an attorney can help you determine if you have a claim, navigate the complexities of litigation, and maximize your potential compensation.