The following asbestos mesothelioma lawsuit case study illustrates several important legal issues involved in these types of personal injury cases. We review some background information, liability, injuries, negotiations, and the final case resolution.
James was a mechanic for 30 years in an industrial machine shop where he worked on large scale tractors both building and repairing various parts.
Unbeknownst to him or his family, he was exposed to asbestos. The doctor diagnosed him with stage three mesothelioma which is a deadly and rare form of cancer that develops from exposure to and inhalation of asbestos.
Despite knowledge of the dangers of asbestos as early as the 1930’s and discussion of regulations as early as the 1970’s, little has been done until recently to limit and/or ban complete exposure to the substance.
Companies allowed employees to work with asbestos without informing the workers, which is what occurred with James. Because the symptoms of mesothelioma were unknown to James, he unfortunately delayed treatment until he was at stage three (which is advanced).
Mesothelioma litigation is new in that cases have recently developed within the last five years. This is due, in part, to the fact that it often goes undetected for 10-40 years causing individuals to delay treatment or never seek it at all.
Because of this, mesothelioma litigation is either in the form of wrongful death, for a loved one who died of the disease, or compensation for the care and treatment of the diagnosed asbestos worker.
In this asbestos mesothelioma lawsuit case study, James pursued a claim against the industrial machine shop where he had been a mechanic. The shop was liable for…
(1) failing to comply with state regulations then in place to eliminate the use of asbestos;
(2) failing to educate employees of the existence of asbestos; and
(3) failing to post mandatory OSHA signs warning of the risk of possible asbestos exposure.
James was diagnosed with peritoneal mesothelioma, the symptoms of which often do not appear until the disease is well advanced, hindering early diagnosis.
These symptoms include nausea, weight loss, abdominal pains, distension (bloating) of the abdomen, and swelling of the feet. James was given a diagnosis of 6 months to 1 year to live.
James and his family hired an experienced asbestos litigation attorney to negotiate a settlement for them that would be fair under the circumstances.
James’ wife was so distraught that she found it difficult to participate in the settlement negotiations and James became increasingly more ill as the case proceeded.
The attorney negotiated quickly to receive a settlement that would cover in-home health care services for James, counseling for his family and financial compensation that would assist the family when James ultimately passed away.
The case became a class action once members of the community learned about James and began to be diagnosed with the same condition. The attorney sued the parent company of the machine shop which was situated in China.
Discovery revealed that they knew of the exposure and failed to do anything about it, deciding that it would be cheaper to settle a law suit then to stop using the asbestos and remediate the 85,000 square foot machine shop.
In the end, the attorney negotiated a settlement against the Chinese parent corporation for $15 million on behalf of 10 surviving families and 5 plaintiffs. James died shortly thereafter, and his family was given a settlement of just over $1 million in what became a wrongful death lawsuit.
- Some companies will actually evaluate the costs of repairing or correcting a situation versus the cost of a lawsuit, and opt for the latter.
- In mesothelioma cases, many times the plaintiff dies in the midst of litigation.
- When other parties are similarly situated, it often makes sense to do class action litigation.
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