Asbestos-Related Class Action Lawsuits
In rare cases, mesothelioma claims may be filed as class actions, lawsuits filed on behalf of multiple people in similar situations.
How a Class Action Works
A class action lawsuit is a joint claim filed on behalf of several people. Although there have been class actions that target companies responsible for asbestos exposure, most mesothelioma patients find the most success when working alongside an experienced lawyer who can focus solely on their specific case.
Why Class Actions Are Rare for Mesothelioma Patients
Trying to tie several cases of mesothelioma to a single company responsible for asbestos exposure can be counterproductive. Every mesothelioma patient has a different story and unique circumstances that impact their case.
Amount of Compensation
Even if a mesothelioma patient is eligible to be included in a class action, it is usually more beneficial to opt out and file a separate lawsuit. The amount of compensation for a class action isn’t as substantial as filing separately.
Length of Trial
Class action suits require the cooperation of many people, and the process can end up dragging on. Unfortunately, some late-stage mesothelioma patients don’t have the time to endure an unnecessarily long trial.
Filing a Mesothelioma Claim
If you or someone you know has been diagnosed with mesothelioma, there is a good chance you are eligible for compensation. Filing a mesothelioma claim with the help of an experienced mesothelioma attorney is far simpler than many people may realize. These lawyers are skilled at making the process easy so patients can focus on their treatment and receive financial security without the stress of a difficult lawsuit.
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Past Mesothelioma Class Actions
Class actions for asbestos-related diseases initially rose to prominence in the 1960s, when the general population became aware of the dangers of asbestos. Class actions are an attempt to streamline the judicial process in order to save time and money by including many “similarly situated” cases into a single trial.
One of the largest class action suits spurred by asbestos exposure was the case brought against Halliburton, an oil field services company run by Dick Cheney before he became vice president.
Halliburton purchased a road paving company that they developed into Kellogg, Brown, and Root (also called KBR) in 1998. KBR was responsible for burning waste, including asbestos products, in large pits. The flames from these pits rose up to 100 feet in the air, spreading ash and chemicals onto a nearby military base and the soldiers there. This negligence and willful exposure led to several class actions being filed against the company.
In 2002, Halliburton agreed to pay about $4.2 billion to settle 374,000 claims for harm from asbestos exposure. Remaining money was agreed to be set aside in an asbestos trust fund for mesothelioma victims whose disease would manifest later on. This was one of the largest settlement trusts in asbestos litigation history.
Asbestos Trust Funds
Class actions have been filed for years against various companies responsible for asbestos exposure. Over that time, many of these companies have declared bankruptcy and set up trust funds to provide compensation for future mesothelioma cases.
These funds were formed largely because of class actions. Often, filing an individual claim with an experienced lawyer will result in a higher settlement for mesothelioma patients. Find out more about asbestos trust funds.
Opting Out of a Class Action
If you have been exposed to asbestos, you may be included in a class action against the company responsible. You can opt out of the class action suit if you want to file separately.
Deciding whether to opt out of a class action is a decision that should be made under legal counsel. If you have already been diagnosed with mesothelioma, compensation from filing an individual claim may far outweigh that of a class action.
If you are willing to litigate with the help of a qualified and experienced attorney, your chances of receiving significant compensation for your disease are far better. The average compensation recovered from a mesothelioma settlement is far higher than the net sum from a class action.