Troy E. Walton
Personal Injury Attorney
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Everything You Need to Know About Mesothelioma Lawsuits
Important Facts About Mesothelioma Lawsuit Verdicts
- Verdicts are usually riskier than settlements for people filing asbestos claims because the court may rule in the defendant’s favor.
- Verdicts can lead to larger payouts than settlements, but the process usually takes much longer due to appeals after the initial verdict.
- There are two types of damage compensation that come from verdicts: compensatory and punitive. Mesothelioma verdicts usually include both
Whether to Seek a Mesothelioma Settlement or Verdict
Mesothelioma settlements and verdicts are the two main results of lawsuits. Trials end in a verdict for one party or the other – unless a settlement is reached before the case goes to trial. If there’s enough evidence linking the victim’s asbestos exposure history to the at-fault company, then the jury should side with the victim and award them mesothelioma compensation.
However, seeking an asbestos verdict is risky because the decision is ultimately in the hands of the jury or judge. While there are many notable mesothelioma lawsuits ending in multi-million-dollar verdicts for those affected by asbestos cancer, there have been cases where the jury sided with the defendant asbestos companies.
Seeking a settlement is generally safer than attempting to get a favorable verdict. The reason mesothelioma settlements are so prominent is due to the overwhelming evidence against asbestos companies. The attorneys for these companies are trying to reduce the amount they must pay the victims and prefer to settle for less money than they may have to face in a landmark verdict. The average asbestos settlement amount is approximately $1 million.
In some cases, though, the plaintiff’s asbestos exposure history is substantial, and a settlement offer would not justify what the victim deserves in a payout. Therefore, seeking a verdict may be the best option.
According to the 2017-2018 Mealey’s Litigation Report, the median trial verdict for asbestos-related cases in 2017 was approximately $2 million. The average verdict was higher, around $9 million, due to two or three outliers.
Verdicts can help pay for:
- The cost of medical treatment, such as surgery, immunotherapy, chemotherapy and radiation for mesothelioma patients
- Cost of traveling to the top mesothelioma cancer centers for the best treatment
- Lost wages from being unable to work due to the aggressive and debilitating cancer
- Funeral expenses for the family if the victim has passed away
Benefits of Seeking Asbestos Verdicts
Mesothelioma cancer is the result of asbestos exposure. The companies that manufactured and sold asbestos to consumers despite the health risks are responsible for this cancer, whether from working with asbestos or from secondhand asbestos exposure. There is a long history of asbestos causing cancer for people. These companies need to be held accountable for their negligent actions, and the only way for victims to do so is by filing claims against them. Trying for a verdict pursues the maximum financial accountability.
While pursuing a verdict puts the victims at risk of receiving no compensation for mesothelioma, verdicts also have the potential for a larger payout. If there is a mesothelioma diagnosis, the evidence against the asbestos companies is strong enough, and the lawyer is experienced, victims should feel confident going for a verdict if the mesothelioma settlement amount offered is inadequate.
Risks of Mesothelioma Verdicts
Mesothelioma Verdicts Awarded to Victims of Asbestos Exposure
Victims can look to other cases as examples of the mesothelioma verdict amounts awarded by juries. Many of these recent asbestos verdicts top $10 million, proof that they can lead to large payouts.
$36.7 Million to Former Welder and Pipefitter
A Louisiana court issued a $36.7 million verdict in 2021 to a former welder and pipefitter, two occupations tied to regular asbestos exposure. This is one of the largest asbestos verdicts since courts reopened following the COVID-19 pandemic. Louisiana is often a favorable state for filing asbestos lawsuits.
$43 Million Verdict from Los Angeles Jury
A jury in Los Angeles awarded a $43 million verdict to someone diagnosed with mesothelioma. The victim worked for Algoma Hardwoods, Inc., which was responsible for paying the verdict. It is one of the largest mesothelioma lawsuit verdicts since the U.S. court system reopened following the COVID-19 pandemic.
$8 Million Verdict for Secondary Asbestos Exposure
A wrongful death lawsuit led to a $8 million verdict for the surviving family. The victim passed away at the age of 38 after developing mesothelioma from secondary asbestos exposure. There were three companies named in the lawsuit: Union Carbide (manufacturer); Montello Inc. (distributor); and National Oilwell Varco (manufacturer).
$29.4 Million in Talc Lawsuit
A California jury awarded $29.4 million to a victim with mesothelioma who linked their cancer to using Johnson & Johnson’s Baby Powder. This talc product has been at the center of thousands of cancer lawsuits.
$18.8 Million for Pericardial Mesothelioma
After two attempts to file for bankruptcy and avoid future lawsuits, Johnson & Johnson was on the losing end of a mesothelioma trial. The victim had pericardial mesothelioma, a rare type of cancer forming in the lining of the heart. The victim filed the lawsuit blaming their cancer on using Johnson & Johnson’s Baby Powder, which was made for decades with talc. Unfortunately, talc and asbestos can mix together as minerals and lead to dangerous talcum powder mixtures in cosmetic products. They received a verdict of $18.8 million in 2023.
$107 Million From California Jury
After a man died of pleural mesothelioma in 2014, his family filed a lawsuit and won a $107 verdict in 2023. The victim worked as a janitor at an apartment complex in Irvine, California. He cleaned up the dust and debris left behind by the repair work, and the apartment’s drywall joint compounds contained asbestos. This is one of the largest mesothelioma verdicts in a few years.
$40 Million for Victim’s Family
A U.S. Army veteran filed a mesothelioma lawsuit after working for more than 40 years as a laborer, engineer and salesperson in oil refinery and industrial machinery. After he passed away from his cancer, his family continued the lawsuit and received $40.75 million in 2023 from a court in Cook County, Illinois, which is a frequent location for asbestos lawsuits.
What to Expect When Going to Trial
The judicial process is often portrayed as dramatic and intense. However, the mesothelioma legal process is not as demanding as most think.
When a settlement isn’t possible, people with mesothelioma hope for a favorable verdict. It is important to note that attorneys will still try to negotiate a settlement during the trial, but after a verdict is delivered, it is too late to pursue a mesothelioma settlement.
Presentation of evidence
Presenting and Examining the Facts
During the trial, both sides present evidence and witnesses. They also cross-examine each side’s witnesses.
The victim will testify as a witness if they are medically able to, but this exposes them to cross-examination by the defendant’s lawyers. Cross-examination during a trial can add undue stress for the victim, so it’s not always necessary.
Instead of testifying in-person, the victim can record a deposition beforehand. A deposition is a video testimony that can be played or recited during the trial, which allows the victim to testify without enduring the stress of attending the trial. The opposing side’s attorneys do have the opportunity to cross-examine during a deposition.
After each side provides closing statements, the judge gives instructions to the jury, such as ruling on certain issues of the case and pointing out certain facts and rules of law. The jury then deliberates until a verdict is reached.
Types of Damages in Verdicts
If the jury votes in favor of the person or family affected by mesothelioma, then it sets the dollar amount of damages, which is the verdict amount awarded to the victim.
There are two types of damages in asbestos verdicts:
- Compensatory damages pay the victim for lost damages, such as medical bills or lost wages.
- Punitive damages punish the defendant and set an example to prevent future occurrences of wrongdoing.
The award amount varies based on the circumstances of the case. Compensatory damages depend on the victim’s situation. Punitive damages depend on how much the jury believes the defendant was responsible.
Even though the two types of damages have different purposes, they are both awarded to the victim and can help pay for treatment from the top mesothelioma cancer centers, debt, and other hardships. Many asbestos cancer victims used verdict compensation to pay for mesothelioma treatment.
If the jury votes in favor of the defendant, then the asbestos company is not required to pay any damages to the plaintiff. When working with top mesothelioma lawyers, the plaintiff doesn’t have to pay any legal fees to their attorney even if they lose their case.
Choosing a Qualified Mesothelioma Law Firm
The importance of choosing a qualified mesothelioma law firm cannot be overstated. Mesothelioma lawsuits are intricate – especially navigating trials and proving the victim’s case against the malicious asbestos manufacturing companies. Lawyers with extensive experience are the most reliable option. Prioritize law firms with asbestos attorneys who have experience in mesothelioma trials, securing verdicts for people impacted by mesothelioma, and negotiating settlements.
Most national mesothelioma law firms work on what’s called a “contingency basis”, meaning they are only paid a percentage of their client’s payout for two main reasons:
- The attorneys are confident they’ll be successful in securing a mesothelioma lawsuit settlement outside of the courtroom or proving the victim’s case to the jury to earn a favorable verdict.
- The experienced mesothelioma attorneys don’t want their clients to pay unnecessary out-of-pocket costs for legal representation, especially as they face medical bills for treatment and lost wages from being unable to work.
When searching for an experienced mesothelioma lawyer, look for ones who work on a contingency basis. People who developed mesothelioma from exposure to asbestos should never have to pay upfront fees to receive legal representation and file a claim.
If you have been diagnosed with mesothelioma, explore your options with our free legal support and connect with a top mesothelioma law firm. They’ll examine the facts of your case for free, explain the chances of a favorable mesothelioma verdict, and discuss when to accept an asbestos settlement.
Frequently Asked Questions About Mesothelioma Verdicts
What is the average mesothelioma verdict?
According to an annual report from Mealey’s Litigation, the average mesothelioma verdict in 2017-2018 was around $9 million. Most verdicts are lower than this amount, with a few outlier jury decisions eclipsing $100 million and skewing the average. Settlements for mesothelioma are often lower.
Why are verdicts risky for mesothelioma lawsuits?
There’s some uncertainty with verdicts. The judge or jury could side in favor of the other party, which in mesothelioma lawsuits is usually the asbestos manufacturer. Mesothelioma settlement time is usually quicker than verdicts, and the appeals process can drag out payment for years, delaying compensation for the victims who deserve it.
What are the two types of compensation in a verdict?
Verdicts favoring mesothelioma victims are split into types of damages: compensatory and punitive. Compensatory damages pay back the victim for lost wages, medical bills, funeral costs, pain and suffering, and other financial hardships. Punitive damages are more so a punishment against the manufacturer to prevent similar malicious acts in the future.
Sources & Author
- Asbestos Verdicts & Settlements: January 2017 – December 2017. Lexis Legal News. Retrieved from: https://www.lexislegalnews.com/articles/28330/asbestos-verdicts-settlements-january-2017-december-2017. Accessed: 03/20/19.