Asbestos (Mesothelioma) Lawsuit

Asbestos Lawsuit

Mesothelioma is a rare type of cancer that forms in the thin layer of tissue (mesothelium) covering most of your body’s internal organs. While treatments are available, this cancer is extremely aggressive and deadly. Very sadly, most patients will never be cured.

What Is Mesothelioma?

There are different types of mesothelioma, categorized by which part of the mesothelium is affected. Mostly commonly, mesothelioma affects tissue around the lungs, or pleura. This type is called pleural mesothelioma. Other forms of mesothelioma are less common, affecting the abdomen, heart, or testicles.

Generally, cancer forms when a cell’s DNA undergoes a series of mutations, causing the cell to grow and multiply rapidly. The cells accumulate to form a tumor. The same is true in mesothelioma, but we don’t yet understand what triggers the initial mutation. However, researchers have identified several factors that increase a person’s risk for developing mesothelioma. 

The primary risk factor is exposure to asbestos, which leads to pleural mesothelioma. Most people who have been exposed to asbestos will not develop mesothelioma, suggesting other factors heavily determine whether someone gets this cancer. Still, researchers consider asbestos exposure to be the only known cause of mesothelioma

More on Asbestos & Exposure

Asbestos is a group of naturally occurring, fibrous minerals with unique insulating properties. These properties are what made asbestos a popular choice for construction materials and other industrial products. Asbestos fibers are also strong and naturally resistant to heat, so they were incredibly useful in building materials, such as flooring, ceilings, roofing and even automotive parts. Construction sites, manufacturing plants, refineries, and shipyards are just a few places where exposure could happen.

Exposure mainly occurs when a person inhales asbestos fibers in the air they breathe. So, while exposure could happen during an activity that involves using asbestos-containing materials, like construction or mining, it can also occur more indirectly. For example, when older buildings are demolished or renovated, or when materials containing asbestos break down, asbestos can be released into the air. 

Why Is Asbestos Harmful?

When asbestos is used in manufacturing or mining, the fibers are broken up and can create a fine dust. If inhaled or swallowed, the dust will settle in the lungs or stomach, causing an irritation that could eventually lead to mesothelioma. Researchers don’t fully understand what causes this to happen, or why it takes so long for mesothelioma to develop after asbestos exposure. 

When a person is exposed to asbestos, it can take anywhere from 20 to 60 years or more for them to develop mesothelioma. And, unfortunately, the risk of getting mesothelioma does not lessen over time. Once you are exposed, you may carry a lifelong risk of developing mesothelioma.

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Who Is at Risk for Developing Mesothelioma?

Because asbestos is the only known cause, those with a personal history of exposure are at the greatest risk for developing terminal mesothelioma. Those with the heaviest exposure, like construction site or shipyard workers, carry the greatest risk. However, it’s possible to spread that risk to others. Living with someone who works with asbestos can lead to illness. A person can carry stray asbestos fibers home on their skin and clothes. Members of the household can be exposed to the fibers over many years, putting them at risk for mesothelioma. 

Finally, family history plays a role. If a  parent, sibling or child has mesothelioma, you may have an increased risk of this disease.

Uncovering the Link Between Mesothelioma & Asbestos

Scientists connected asbestos to disease as early as 1918. Asbestosis,a chronic lung disease caused by inhaling asbestos fibers, was among the earliest recognized illnesses linked to asbestos. Regulations were put in place in the United States by the 1930s in an effort to protect workers. However, mesothelioma wasn’t linked to asbestos exposure until the 1940s, when a study of German asbestos workers revealed a link between asbestosis and cancers affecting the lungs, including mesothelioma. 

By the 1960s, researchers were drawing clearer lines between asbestos exposure and mesothelioma specifically. A paper published in the British Journal of Medicine documented 33 cases of pleural mesothelioma among residents in South Africa’s Cape Province. All but one of them had been exposed to asbestos.

Another study of 600 workers from New York-area asbestos unions showed a lung cancer mortality rate that was 6.8 times higher than the general population. It noted that the occurrence of pleural mesothelioma was “strikingly high” in this group. 

What Are the Symptoms of Mesothelioma?

Symptoms of Mesothelioma

As mentioned, mesothelioma comes with a long latency period–up to 60 years–during which there may be no symptoms. When symptoms do surface, they’ll vary depending on where the cancer occurs. 

Pleural mesothelioma, which affects the tissue that surrounds the lungs, symptoms include:

  • Chest pain
  • Painful coughing
  • Shortness of breath
  • Unusual lumps of tissue under the skin on your chest
  • Unexplained weight loss

Peritoneal mesothelioma, which occurs in tissue in the abdomen, symptoms include:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Abdominal swelling
  • Nausea
  • Unexplained weight loss

People experiencing any worrying signs or symptoms of mesothelioma should see a doctor as soon as possible–especially if they know they’ve been exposed to asbestos.

How Is Asbestos Regulated in the U.S.?

As a known human carcinogen, asbestos has been subject to multiple actions from government agencies as they work to protect the public from exposure. However, these, and multiple congressional bills, have failed to outright ban it. In 1989, the EPA issued a partial ban on the manufacture, import, processing, and distribution of only some asbestos-containing products. A 2019 ruling strengthened the ban, but most uses of asbestos are still allowed. Many products are still legally allowed to contain up to 1% of the mineral.

Currently, only one known form of asbestos is imported into the U.S. A new ruling by the EPA, if finalized, will prohibit use of this asbestos completely. Until then, it is still legal to import small amounts of asbestos.

Asbestos Mesothelioma Lawsuits & Outcomes

Asbestos Mesothelioma Lawsuit

Many asbestos manufacturing companies have declared bankruptcy over the years. Luckily, their victims may still be protected. Many of these companies established mesothelioma trust funds to help cover future claims of patients who were diagnosed after asbestos exposure. Considering it can take decades for the cancer to develop after being exposed to asbestos, these funds play a critical role in ensuring mesothelioma victims receive the compensation they deserve.

There are dozens of mesothelioma funds in the United States that contain billions in potential settlement money for mesothelioma victims. Generally, anyone who was diagnosed with mesothelioma after asbestos exposure is eligible to file a claim. 

To date, the largest mesothelioma/asbestos verdict recorded is $250 million, awarded in 2003 to a man who worked for U.S. Steel for 30 years. The amount was later settled for $50 million. That same year, a Pennsylvania man was awarded $47 million in his claim against KeySpan, the company that owns the power plants he used to work for.

Other outcomes include:

  • In 2020, a drywall worker diagnosed with mesothelioma received a $13.6 million verdict and $75,000 in settlement money in Washington state, saying he developed cancer after working with asbestos-containing material on the job.
  • In 2018, a shipyard worker was awarded $6.5 million after a jury determined his mesothelioma diagnosis resulted from exposure to asbestos while working with gasket materials at a naval shipyard.
  • In 2018, the family of a mechanic in California received $630,000 to resolve a wrongful death suit after claiming their loved one developed cancer after being exposed to asbestos in brakes, clutches, and gaskets.
  • In 2017, a jury awarded a New York mechanic $75 million when he claimed he developed mesothelioma from working with asbestos gaskets in car engines.
  • In 2014, the surviving family of a factory worker in Texas was awarded $18.6 million. The deceased worked in a tire factory for 30 years and was exposed to machinery that contained asbestos as well as pipe insulation throughout the factory.
  • In 2006, a retired police officer and former brake specialist won a $25 million verdict from DaimlerChrysler, claiming he developed mesothelioma from exposure to the company’s car brakes.

If you believe you have a qualifying case, an expert mesothelioma attorney will be able to guide you through the entire process of filing a claim, including helping you identify the right trust fund. Lawsuits must be filed within a certain time period after a mesothelioma diagnosis, usually somewhere between 1 and 4 years. This period varies by state and the type of claim you plan to file, so it’s important to seek legal help as soon as possible.

Asbestos Lawsuit Settlements

Asbestos Lawsuit Settlements

Join the Many can help you get started with a free, fast case review to see if you may be eligible for Asbestos Mesothelioma Settlement. If so, we’ll carefully match you with the best legal care for your situation to ensure you receive the maximum payout. 

Trusted Sources on Mesothelioma

For more information on mesothelioma and asbestos exposure, visit these trusted sources:

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