The ongoing COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic halted many aspects of the American way of life. The legal system, which did take a pause for a few months, is the latest to go virtual.
This is good news for mesothelioma and asbestos-disease victims, who have waited patiently for their deserved compensation.
One mesothelioma case served as a test for a Zoom trial. Last month, a California jury awarded a Navy veteran $2.5 million for his asbestos exposure and disease.
The retired admiral developed mesothelioma due to his military service — a common occurrence for veterans with this cancer — and his case went against insulation manufacturer Metalclad Insulation Corp.
Appellate courts may reduce the mesothelioma verdict, but the veteran should receive substantial compensation. Just as noteworthy, the virtual aspect apparently did not hinder the proceedings or impact the result.
Challenges Faced With Virtual Trials
Reuters reported that the Superior Court of Alameda County conducted the trial “largely over the videoconferencing platform.” It’s the second asbestos trial occurring virtually.
Some defendants, including Metalclad Insulation Corp., have requested a mistrial due to the abnormalities of virtual proceedings. In this trial, the website Legal Newsline reported that a “friendly chat” about setting up Zoom virtual backgrounds became contentious.
Metalclad argued that the plaintiff’s conversation with jurors about how to set up a background “endeared the man to jurors.” The judge denied a mistrial motion.
In the first asbestos trial, reports described jury candidates sleeping during jury selection and not paying attention to presentations. Despite these issues, the trials continued and a third asbestos trial should begin soon.
Why Mesothelioma Trials Should Move Forward
The recent verdict is a positive omen for people diagnosed with mesothelioma. It’s an example for people who’ve filed claims and are standing by for the next step.
Mesothelioma is an aggressive cancer, usually associated with life expectancies between a few months to a couple of years. It’s also a disease requiring complex medical treatment, ideally from state-of-the-art cancer centers. That combination usually leads to an expensive medical bill.
Any delay in legal proceedings can stall receipt of compensation, which may obstruct patients’ efforts to receive medical care. It also may put victims and families into debt — as mesothelioma can keep people from working.
Holding trials over Zoom is not as ideal as in-person trials. However, the coronavirus pandemic has put the world in unideal times, requiring adjustment and compromise.
As proven in two cases already, the videoconferencing platform is an effective alternative to keep plaintiffs, defendants, jurors, lawyers, judges and other courtroom employees safe. Additionally, it also gets to a sensible and deserved result: favoring the victim.
Other asbestos and mesothelioma trials should press ahead with this alternative until the world can move permanently beyond the coronavirus pandemic. If you have mesothelioma and believe you have a legal case, contact our team. We can help you find a lawyer who will push to resolve your claim immediately. Please email Carl Jewett at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sources & Author
- Despite Zoom trial irregularities, Navy vet wins $2.5 mln asbestos verdict. Reuters. Retrieved from: https://www.reuters.com/article/products-asbestos-idUSL1N2GQ23D. Accessed: 10/09/2020.
- No mistrial in virtual asbestos trial after plaintiff chatted with jurors about Zoom backgrounds. Legal Newsline. Retrieved from: https://legalnewsline.com/stories/549200659-no-mistrial-in-virtual-asbestos-trial-after-plaintiff-chatted-with-jurors-about-zoom-backgrounds. Accessed: 10/09/2020.
Sources & Author