History of Meso-Asbestos Lawsuits Pt.1

Posted on Friday, December 4th, 2020 at 3:40 am    

At some point asbestos was praised as being the miracle material. However, it has sickened or killed hundreds of thousands of people over the years. As if that’s not enough, new cases continue to be filed annually. This article will give a short history of mesothelioma or asbestos lawsuits and their developments.

The First Lawsuits

By the 1930s companies knew of the health risks of asbestos. But litigation only started in the 1970s. this was after scientific studies linked asbestos to cancers. The link was made between asbestos and cancers such as mesothelioma and conditions such as asbestosis. The main push factor in asbestos litigation increases were when courts began accepting the legal theory of “strict liability”. And the plaintiffs did not need to show negligence of the asbestos manufacturers anymore. The deciding case was Borel v. Fibreboard that began in 1969 and ended in 1973. This was the first important legal victory by a plaintiff using the strict liability against major asbestos manufacturers. After the Borel case, there was a marked increase in litigation. By the 1990s asbestos and mesothelioma lawsuits had reached their peak.

Another way to carry out legal action is by a class action. Class action lawsuits are a special litigation procedure where one court case resolves a large number of claims at once. They are common in defective product litigation where hundreds or thousands of potential plaintiffs are affected and involved. A multi-district litigation (MDL) was the first successful class action in re: Asbestos Products Liability Litigation MDL No. 875. The asbestos and mesothelioma lawsuit helped resolve more than 100,000 lawsuits.

Today, most lawsuits are filed individually and the majority involve secondary exposure to asbestos. Further, many potential defendants have declared bankruptcy. In order to help future claimants, these bankrupt companies created special asbestos bankruptcy trusts. Such trusts have distributed millions of dollars to plaintiffs.

However, another option is for plaintiffs to sue responsible companies directly. Unfortunately, there are not many asbestos companies left that are solvent.

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