Troy E. Walton
Personal Injury Attorney
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Everything You Need to Know About Mesothelioma Lawsuits
Who Can Appeal a Mesothelioma Lawsuit Verdict?
Mesothelioma lawsuits are civil cases, meaning either party involved in a mesothelioma lawsuit can appeal a verdict. Mesothelioma verdicts can be appealed for any reason but are successful only if there is proof of a legal error within the case. There must be a legal basis, meaning an error occurred during the case which led to an unjust verdict.
Both the plaintiff asbestos victim and the defendant company can appeal a verdict. A plaintiff will appeal a verdict in which the jury found for the defendant. In many cases, defendants appeal mesothelioma lawsuit verdicts that order high dollar amounts paid to the victims of mesothelioma. Some of these high dollar verdicts as well as many pending cases have led to the creation of asbestos trust funds.
Who Usually Appeals Mesothelioma Lawsuit Verdicts?
Asbestos manufacturing companies are the most likely defendants in mesothelioma lawsuits. Asbestos exposure is the only cause of mesothelioma, which is why manufacturers of asbestos during the 20th century faced legal claims from mesothelioma cancer victims.
These companies usually appeal mesothelioma verdicts that order them to pay victims. The verdicts are often in the millions. Some are even hundreds of millions of dollars.
An example of a mesothelioma lawsuit appeal is Johnson & Johnson, the health and beauty company that makes powders, shampoo and other products. Johnson & Johnson Baby Powder is made with talc, which can be contaminated with asbestos. Johnson & Johnson is a defendant in tens of thousands of lawsuits.
One asbestos cancer lawsuit against the company ordered it to pay the victims billions. Johnson & Johnson appealed the decision all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, which refused to hear the appeal. The decision not to hear the appeal forced the company to finally compensate the victim.
Who Usually Wins Mesothelioma Lawsuit Appeals?
Mesothelioma lawsuit appeals are difficult to win. Judges often stand by the original ruling on the case and do not hear lengthy, in-court arguments. Typically, judges and mesothelioma lawyers are very experienced and rarely make legal errors, which is why filing a successful appeal is rare and difficult. However, if there is a clear legal error discovered in the original case, there is a good chance for a verdict reversal.
What are the Steps in the Mesothelioma Lawsuit Appeal Process?
There are seven main steps of a mesothelioma lawsuit appeal. These are important to know as someone who is considering filing a lawsuit or has received a verdict either favorable or unfavorable to you and your family.
Gather Your Records Used in the Original Lawsuit
The first step in appealing a mesothelioma verdict is to gather all of your medical and legal records. This includes any imaging studies, pathology reports, physician notes, legal evidence, the trial transcript and witness records. It is important to have a complete understanding of your mesothelioma diagnosis and lawsuit to determine if any legal errors occurred that could have affected the outcome.
Find an Experienced Mesothelioma Attorney
Once you have gathered all of your records, you will need to find an experienced mesothelioma appeals attorney. Appellate lawyers specialize in guiding patients through the appeals process. They will work with you to review your records and determine if there is a legal basis for a mesothelioma verdict appeal. If your original lawyer did not help you win a case, consider a different attorney to handle the appeal to offer a different and fresh legal approach.
File a Notice of Appeal
If you and your mesothelioma appellate attorney decide to move forward with an appeal, you will need to file a notice of appeal. This notice must be filed within a certain timeframe, typically within 30 days of the judge’s signing of the original judgment on the verdict, so it is important to act quickly. Once the appealing party, known as the appellant or petitioner, files a notice of appeal, the timeframe for submitting a written argument, or brief, begins.
Submit a Written Argument in Support of Your Appeal
After a notice of appeal has been filed by the appellant, a written argument, or brief, detailing the legal basis for your appeal is required for submission. The appellee, or respondent, has a specific timeframe to file an answering brief defending their position. The appellant may then file a second brief responding to the appellee’s answering brief. The court will then review your case and make a decision, sometimes without a hearing where the attorneys present their arguments. If the court decides in your favor, you may be able to receive compensation for mesothelioma.
Appellate Court Reviews Your Case
Mesothelioma lawsuit appeals, like all other appeals cases, are heard by an appeals court, known as an appellate court. Occasionally, appellate courts will determine whether or not a verdict reversal is necessary by written arguments only, while most of the time they will ask for oral arguments. Oral arguments can be requested by the court or either one of the parties involved in the case. During oral arguments, each party’s attorney is given the opportunity to briefly argue their side of the case and answer the court’s questions.
Appellate Court Judges Meet for Conference
After oral arguments are completed, the appeals court judges will meet privately to come to a decision. The judges will base their decision on whether there was a legal error within the case that could have changed the outcome. There must be a harmful legal error in the case to file for an appeal, but not every legal error is grounds for an appeal. During the judge’s conference, one judge will be assigned to write an opinion. The opinion may go through several drafts before a majority of the court agrees with it. Judges disagreeing with the majority opinion may file a dissenting opinion. Judges agreeing with the result of a majority decision but disagreeing with the majority's reasoning may issue a concurring opinion. Occasionally, the appeals court will simply deliver an unsigned opinion not credited to any particular judge. These are called per curiam, meaning “by the court.”
Appeal Can Continue to Higher Court if Denied
If the appeals court agrees with the lower court’s decision, the case ends, unless the losing party files another appeal to an even higher court. Mesothelioma lawsuit appeals can sometimes be dismissed entirely by an appellate court, meaning there is no basis for appeal and the original ruling stands. The highest court to appeal a mesothelioma verdict is the United States Supreme Court. If the Supreme Court upholds the original verdict, the case ends as there are no other courts to make an appeal.
What Happens When a Mesothelioma Lawsuit Appeal is Approved?
If a mesothelioma lawsuit appeal is granted by an appellate court, the judge will typically send it back to the lower court and order the court to take action to establish a new verdict. There are a few courses of action the court can take. The court may order a new trial to take place or modify the verdict amount without a new trial. Sometimes the original court will accept new evidence or reconsider the case due to the appellate court’s decision.
In civil cases, such as mesothelioma lawsuits, an appeal does not automatically overrule the original trial’s judgment. The winning party can enforce the appellate court’s decision by ordering the judgment to be executed. The appealing party can also file a supersedeas bond, which will prevent further action on the judgment until the appeal is over by guaranteeing that the appealing party will pay or abide by the judgment on the appeal if the verdict is not reversed.
Frequently Asked Questions About Mesothelioma Lawsuit Appeals
What happens if I lose my mesothelioma lawsuit appeal?
If you lose an appeal, this means an appeals judge agrees with the original judgment on the case. There will be no verdict reversal and the losing party will not be penalized. However, you can file an appeal with a higher court. The highest and last court you can file an appeal to is the U.S. Supreme Court.
What are common reasons for a mesothelioma lawsuit appeal?
The most common reason for a mesothelioma verdict appeal is legal error significant or harmful enough that the error could have changed the verdict. Sometimes, judges or attorneys can make errors in a case, which can lead to a questionable or an improper verdict. Another reason for an appeal is juror misconduct that may have affected the outcome of the case.
How long does it take for a mesothelioma lawsuit appeal to be decided?
An appellate court may issue its decision in as little as a month or as long as a year. The average time period is six months, but there is no time limit. Length of time does not determine the kind of decision the court will reach.
Sources & Author
- Appeal. Legal Information Institute. Retrieved from: https://www.nber.org/papers/w10308.pdf?new_window=1. Accessed: 08/15/22.
- How Courts Work. American Bar Association. Retrieved from: https://www.americanbar.org/groups/public_education/resources/law_related_education_network/how_courts_work/appeals/. Accessed: 08/15/22.