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Written By: Devin Golden

Mesothelioma Lawsuit Trials

Mesothelioma lawsuit trials are the result of lawsuits that have not reached a settlement. Asbestos lawsuits are legal claims between people with diseases caused by asbestos exposure and the manufacturing companies responsible for the exposure. These lawsuits can either end in settlement agreements between both parties or proceed to a trial in a courtroom.

Troy Walton

Reviewed By

Troy E. Walton

Personal Injury Attorney

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Important Facts About Mesothelioma Lawsuit Trials

  • Mesothelioma lawsuit trials are legal proceedings to discuss the merits of a claim made by the victim of asbestos exposure against the companies responsible for the exposure.
  • Lawsuit trials are run by a judge and involve witnesses giving testimony and being cross-examined by the opposing side’s legal counsel.
  • Trials usually end in a verdict decided by a jury. The verdict is public information, and trials are often highly publicized by media outlets.
  • Most mesothelioma lawsuits settle before proceeding to trial, so asbestos court cases are not common. Experienced asbestos lawyers can help decide the best route.

Overview of Mesothelioma Lawsuit Trials

Trials are one of the last steps in the mesothelioma case process and are the most publicized part of the lawsuit process since it’s open to the public. Lawsuit trials have often been portrayed as dramatic and chaotic by the media, but they are often not as intense as they may seem. A trial can be a crucial step in proving the strength of a legal case.

There are two types of legal cases:

  • Civil cases – Involving individuals or private entities, such as businesses
  • Criminal cases – Involving law enforcement and prosecution by a government entity, such as a state

Mesothelioma legal cases are civil cases, not criminal cases, so they are between the people impacted and the companies responsible for their asbestos exposure. Victims file one of two types of mesothelioma lawsuits: they will file a personal injury lawsuit, or they will file a wrongful death lawsuit, depending on if the person diagnosed has died of mesothelioma.

Steps in a Mesothelioma Lawsuit Trial

The mesothelioma lawsuit timeline when the case goes to trial is generally the same as in other civil cases:

    1
  • Opening arguments – Each side’s attorney or legal representation presents their opening arguments to the court, namely the jury. The opening arguments lay out the basis of the plaintiff’s (victim) case. In the case of a mesothelioma lawsuit trial, it is how the defendants (asbestos product manufacturers) caused their cancer. There can be multiple defendants as there can be any number of asbestos companies named in the lawsuit.
  • 2
  • Presentation of evidence – Each side presents any evidence supporting their position. There are “rules of evidence” for lawsuit trials, which determine what evidence is acceptable and how the jury should apply the evidence in the case. Each state can make its own rules of evidence. In civil cases, the plaintiff must convince the jury “by a preponderance of evidence” – meaning that it is “more likely than not” – that each defendant is responsible for the harm caused to the plaintiff.
  • 3
  • Witness testimony – Witnesses from each side provide testimony to support that side’s position. The opposing side can cross-examine any witness who gives testimony during the trial. The victims of mesothelioma can provide a deposition, which is testimony recorded before the trial if they are unable to provide testimony in-person during the trial.
  • 4
  • Closing arguments – After each side presents their witnesses and evidence, they issue a closing argument. This is a speech delivered to the court, specifically the jury, that recounts the evidence and testimony presented during the trial.
  • 5
  • Jury instructions – In a mesothelioma jury trial, the judge asks the jury to determine whether a defendant is responsible for the asbestos exposure that caused the plaintiff’s cancer (or their deceased loved one’s cancer in wrongful death lawsuits) based on the facts presented in court. The judge also asks the jury to determine the amount of damages that each defendant must pay (if the jury issues a verdict favoring the plaintiff).
  • 6
  • Jury deliberations – The jury deliberates for an indefinite amount of time to come to a decision regarding which side wins the trial. During this step, each party involved in the case leaves the courtroom. Jury deliberations can take anywhere from a few hours to multiple days.
  • 7
  • Judgment – Once the jury has come to a decision, all parties return to the courtroom. The jury usually delivers the verdict along with the damages amount (if there is any) in writing to the judge, who will read it to the courtroom.

During the trial timeline, there can be a potential mesothelioma settlement that halts the process.

Mesothelioma and Asbestos Depositions

A deposition in a lawsuit is a sworn testimony performed in an out-of-court setting. It is recorded and can be transcribed into a written testimony used later in court. The testimony can be substituted for in-court testimony in circumstances where the witness (the person giving the testimony) cannot or should not attend the asbestos court case in-person.

Lawsuit depositions are valuable for many mesothelioma victims, who may not be healthy enough to testify in-person for their trial. Depositions offer the victim an opportunity to tell their side of the asbestos exposure lawsuit and explain the impact that the defendants’ actions have had on their life.

Mesothelioma depositions are also beneficial to people who are receiving treatment and cannot travel for an out-of-town trial, or who are in the end stages of mesothelioma and want to record their testimony before the trial begins in case they pass away.

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You can record a mesothelioma deposition from your home or another location that’s comfortable for you. Your attorney will help you choose a place and time that best fits your circumstances.

Deposition questions are similar to the questions asked in a trial testimony. The deposition interview for a mesothelioma case will go through the victim’s work history or, in the case of secondhand exposure, their loved one’s work history and instances of asbestos exposure.

The deposition questions should link these instances of exposure to specific asbestos manufacturing companies that produced and sold the asbestos brands connected to the victim’s exposure. The interview also establishes that the victim has been diagnosed with mesothelioma, which is a cancer caused solely by asbestos.

What Happens After a Deposition? Icon

What Happens After a Deposition?

Following the deposition is usually negotiations and the lawsuit trial. The court will set a trial date, and the two sides can continue settlement negotiations to decide on mesothelioma compensation.

There is no set time frame for how long it takes a case to settle after a deposition is recorded. Usually, once the deposition links the victim’s mesothelioma to specific asbestos manufacturing companies, these companies will seek a settlement due to the strength of the testimony and evidence supporting the victim’s legal case. Mesothelioma settlements after depositions are a common ending to mesothelioma cancer lawsuits, but the settlement amount is kept private.

Results of a Mesothelioma Lawsuit Trial: Verdicts and Settlements

Trials almost always end in a judgment issued by the judge or a jury. In mesothelioma lawsuit trials, the jury determines the judgment – called a “verdict” – in favor of either the plaintiff (the person affected by mesothelioma and exposed to asbestos) or the defendants (asbestos companies).

Mesothelioma verdicts include damages awarded to the person affected by mesothelioma if they win the trial. These damages are a monetary amount paid to the victim to offset the cost of medical treatment, lost wages, debt, funeral expenses, emotional trauma and other hardships.

A mesothelioma lawsuit trial can end without a judgment or verdict if the case is resolved with a settlement, which is an agreement between all parties involved in a case. Mesothelioma settlements are a potential result of a lawsuit before a trial begins and while the trial is underway. Settlements are no longer an option once a jury has given a verdict.

Lawsuit trials can also be dismissed by the judge due to a mistrial. This occurs when a jury is unable to reach a verdict – also called a “hung jury” – or due to a procedural error that causes an unfair trial (such as jury tampering). When a mistrial happens, the judge adjourns the case without a decision and orders a new trial with a new jury.

Mesothelioma Lawsuit Appeals Icon

Mesothelioma Lawsuit Appeals

A lawsuit trial is not the last part of the mesothelioma case process. If a mesothelioma lawsuit goes to trial and ends in a verdict, the losing side can appeal the judgment. Mesothelioma lawsuit appeals add another step after trials and can delay compensation.

Trial verdicts favoring the person affected by mesothelioma – such as the person diagnosed with the cancer or the family members – usually result in appeals by the defendant, which is usually the asbestos manufacturing companies. Defendants often appeal verdicts when they deem them unfair or unreasonable. Even though the jury may deem these companies responsible for the mesothelioma victim’s asbestos exposure, the companies have the legal right to appeal the verdict to a higher court and seek a reversal of the judgment.

Mesothelioma lawsuit appeals begin with a notice of appeals. The appealing party submits a written argument explaining the basis of the appeal. The appellate court reviews the case, usually with oral arguments between both parties and the appellate judges on the court meet privately to make a decision.

Mesothelioma appeals are only successful if the appellate judges determine there is a legal basis for overturning the original verdict. This basis is usually an error in the original trial, such as evidence that should not have been allowed or news of jury tampering. Another reason for an appeal is new evidence coming to light that undermines the original judgment.

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Mesothelioma verdicts can be appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, which is the highest court in the U.S. judicial system. Once the Supreme Court makes a ruling, there cannot be further appeals, and the case is finished.

 

The losing side in a verdict also has a specific amount of time to file a notice of appeals – usually 30 days from the original verdict or latest appeal ruling. Choosing to not file this notice forfeits an opportunity to appeal and thus concludes the case.

Tips for the Mesothelioma Lawsuit Trial Process

People with mesothelioma – or loved ones of those who have passed due to mesothelioma – who are stressed about the mesothelioma lawsuit trial process can:

    1
  • Find a mesothelioma lawyer with courtroom experience and a history of winning verdicts for victims of asbestos exposure who have been diagnosed with deadly asbestos diseases, such as mesothelioma.
  • 2
  • Record a deposition prior to the trial if you want to give your witness testimony but cannot attend the trial in-person.
  • 3
  • Keep all documents, including records of your mesothelioma diagnosis, for when you file a lawsuit.
  • 4
  • Remember that a settlement is still an option throughout the mesothelioma lawsuit trial until a verdict is delivered by the jury.
  • 5
  • Trust that your experienced mesothelioma attorney has compiled evidence to prove your case and will argue your claim effectively to show how the at-fault company has hurt you with asbestos exposure.

Reach out to Mesothelioma Guide for help finding a lawyer to represent you in a mesothelioma lawsuit trial. Our patient advocates can connect you to a mesothelioma law firm that has attorneys specializing in asbestos cases.

Frequently Asked Questions About Mesothelioma Lawsuit Trials

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When do mesothelioma lawsuit trials happen in the case process?

Trials are one of the last parts of the lawsuit process. Once the victim’s asbestos lawyer has evaluated the case, compiled evidence, and filed the appropriate motions, the court will set a trial date. If the two parties reach a settlement, then there is no trial, and the case ends.

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What are depositions for mesothelioma?

Depositions are witness testimony recorded before the trial. These interviews take place out of court and can substitute for in-court testimony. Depositions are valuable for people diagnosed with mesothelioma because they might not be healthy enough to appear in court for their trial.

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Do mesothelioma lawsuits usually go to trial?

No, mesothelioma lawsuits usually do not go to trial. Most cases end in settlements. The asbestos manufacturing companies responsible for the cancer prefer to settle the case because there is a high likelihood it will lead to a multi-million-dollar verdict. Mesothelioma lawsuit settlements also benefit the victim by providing compensation quicker than if the case goes to trial.

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How can a mesothelioma lawsuit trial end?

Mesothelioma lawsuit trials usually end with a verdict, which is a judgment delivered by a judge or jury that decides who wins the case. In mesothelioma trials, the jury decides a judgment favoring either the plaintiff (person affected by mesothelioma) or the defendant (companies involved in the production, sale, or use of asbestos). Trials can end before a verdict if the two parties reach a mesothelioma settlement, which is an option until the jury delivers a verdict. Another possible ending to a trial is a mistrial.

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What can cause a mesothelioma mistrial?

Mesothelioma mistrials are caused by procedural errors in the trial or a "hung jury" (a jury that cannot decide on a verdict). When a mistrial happens, the judge adjourns the case without a judgment favoring either side and orders a new mesothelioma trial with a new jury.

Sources & Author

  1. Civil Cases. United States Courts. Retrieved from: https://www.uscourts.gov/about-federal-courts/types-cases/civil-cases. Accessed: 01/11/2023
  2. Evidence. Cornell Law School. Retrieved from: https://www.law.cornell.edu/wex/evidence. Accessed: 01/11/2023.
Devin Golden

About the Writer, Devin Golden

Devin Golden is a content writer for Mesothelioma Guide. He produces mesothelioma-related content on various mediums, including the Mesothelioma Guide website and social media channels. Devin's objective is to translate complex information regarding mesothelioma into informative, easily absorbable content to help patients and their loved ones.