The History of Mesothelioma, and Mesothelioma lawsuits
Because it was so rare and such a mystery, mesothelioma went misdiagnosed for years. A long history of studies culminated in a better — although still not complete — understanding of the cancer. Doctors now have answers to once elusive questions, including: What causes this fatal illness and who is at risk?
Today, doctors know exposure to asbestos causes cancerous cells to develop in the mesothelial lining of the lungs, abdomen or heart.
They know between 2,000 and 3,000 people are diagnosed with rare cancer each year in the U.S., and they know treatment for the four types of mesothelioma and other asbestos-related conditions are only minimally effective. Only about 15 to 20 percent of people with pleural mesothelioma — the most common type — qualify for surgery.
Mesothelioma is a rare and highly aggressive cancer diagnosed in an estimated 3,000 Americans each year.
Mesothelioma is still considered incurable, although advancements in treatments allow patients to live longer, better-quality lives.
Doctors, researchers and advocacy groups continue to raise awareness about mesothelioma.
Historical Studies of Asbestos Exposure
In the following decades, the disease became the focus of closer studies, as thousands of workers all over the world died from exposure to the mineral’s toxic dust.
In 1943, H.W. Wedler was the first to report a connection between asbestosis and cancer of the pleura among German asbestos workers.
Twenty percent of the workers developed cancer, with lung cancer more common than mesothelioma. Wedler’s study was well received in Germany, but the political climate at the time caused the rest of the world to ignore research coming from Nazi Germany.
Mesothelioma and Asbestos Lawsuits
Starting the mesothelioma lawsuit process can be difficult, especially when undergoing treatment or grieving for the loss of a loved one. Finding a lawyer who understands the process and will work with your situation can give you a refreshing sense of freedom so you can focus on recovering and spending time with family.
There are two primary types of mesothelioma claims that can be filed: personal injury and wrongful death. Which type of complaint gets filed depends on whether the mesothelioma victim is still alive and who is filing the lawsuit. An experienced mesothelioma lawyer can help you understand which type of asbestos lawsuit you will need to file based on your individual situation.
Personal Injury Lawsuit
Submitted by the patient after receiving a mesothelioma diagnosis.
Filed against the company (or companies) responsible for the asbestos exposure leading to the disease.
Claims specific damages due to illness caused by asbestos exposure.
Allows the patient to recover money for treatment, travel, lost income, pain and suffering, and related costs.
Wrongful Death Lawsuit
Submitted by surviving family after someone dies from mesothelioma.
Filed against the company (or companies) responsible for the asbestos exposure that led to death.
Claims specific damages related to the death of the individual.
Allows family to recover money related to outstanding medical bills, funeral expenses, lost income potential, loss of consortium, and related costs.
Individual Lawsuits, Class Actions and Multidistrict Litigation
Some people may wonder whether their mesothelioma case will be handled individually, or as part of a mass tort such as a class action or multidistrict litigation. Your lawyer will advise you about which type of lawsuit is right for your specific situation.
Individual Lawsuits – These generally involve a single plaintiff who files suit against one or more companies over an illness related to their individual exposure to asbestos. Each side files motions and presents their evidence to a judge, ultimately being resolved either when both sides reach a settlement or the trial jury reaches a verdict.
Class Action Lawsuits – Class actions involve a person or group of people filing a lawsuit on behalf of everyone who is “similarly situated.” Classes can include anywhere from a few hundred to millions of people, and each person can decide whether to remain as part of the class action or opt out. While class actions have been filed over the years, most asbestos lawsuits are either individual or part of a multidistrict litigation.
Multidistrict Litigation (MDL) – This process allows people to file individual claims using a process that regularizes similar complaints and develops efficient procedural guidelines, allowing courts to handle more cases without lumping all plaintiffs into a single class. The primary MDL handling mesothelioma cases is MDL 875, In re: Asbestos Products Liability Litigation, which is managed by the Eastern Pennsylvania District of the United States District Court and which has included more than 186,000 cases since it was formed in 2006.