Mesothelioma class-action lawsuits were once a common way for patients to get compensation from asbestos product manufacturers. With a class action, a group of mesothelioma patients would jointly file one lawsuit. However, they are no longer the best legal option for mesothelioma patients. Get a better understanding of why mesothelioma class-action lawsuits aren’t filed and how to get legal help.
What Are Class-Action Lawsuits for Mesothelioma?
Class-action lawsuits allow groups of people that are affected by the exact same issue to collectively file one lawsuit. If the lawsuit successfully awards financial compensation, it is split equally by everyone who filed.
Class-action lawsuits played an important role in helping patients with mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases up through the 1990s. They allowed victims to receive compensation and held makers of asbestos-based products accountable (these manufacturers knew the risks for decades but hid them to make money).
However, after landmark rulings in the late 1990s, judges and lawyers found that class-action lawsuits were not the ideal solution for mesothelioma cases as they didn’t award a fair amount of money to each patient.
However, you still can file individual lawsuits to get mesothelioma compensation. Many past mesothelioma patients have been awarded millions of dollars by filing these individual claims. You can also file for benefits from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) if you’re a veteran with mesothelioma.
Get a Free Veterans Packet to explore your legal options after a mesothelioma diagnosis.
Get information on:
- Treatment Options
- Mesothelioma Specialists
- Veterans Benefits
Why Aren’t Class-Action Mesothelioma Lawsuits Filed Anymore?
Before the late 1990s, it was believed that class-action lawsuits gave patients with mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases fair compensation for injuries and medical expenses.
This changed with the 1997 case Amchem Products, Inc., et al., Petitioners v. George Windsor et al. This ruling determined that mesothelioma class-action lawsuits weren’t the appropriate legal option for many people who got sick from asbestos exposure.
Mesothelioma class-action lawsuits have drawbacks because:
- Members of class-action lawsuits were likely not exposed to asbestos in the same way. Asbestos was used in thousands of different products sold by many manufacturers. When, where, and how each person was exposed to asbestos can vary greatly.
- Asbestos exposure causes different health issues. Some exposed will develop mesothelioma, while others could get lung cancer, asbestosis, or another health problem. Further, some who are exposed to asbestos might not get sick.
- Those who were simply exposed to asbestos (but weren’t yet sick) were named in many mesothelioma class-action lawsuits. However, a class action would settle these claims and the victims do not yet know the full extent of how mesothelioma will affect their lives, meaning they could miss out on more compensation.
Because of these factors, individual mesothelioma lawsuits are much better suited to help patients than class-action cases. While they are not illegal, judges are unlikely to hear or certify class-action lawsuits for mesothelioma.
Class-Action Lawsuit Compensation for Mesothelioma Patients
Historically, class-action lawsuits for mesothelioma have paid less than individually filed lawsuits.
A mesothelioma class-action lawsuit settlement that was proposed in the 1990s would have paid up to $60,000 for mesothelioma cases ($123,000 in today’s dollars). However, individual mesothelioma lawsuits are worth 10 times as much, paying out $1 million or more on average.
Even though asbestos and mesothelioma class-action lawsuits are extremely rare today, some can award millions of dollars. In 2016, an $80 million class-action settlement was reached in a case where a group of people was exposed to asbestos at a courthouse in Kansas during renovations.
$25 million was set aside to cover the victims’ legal expenses, while the remaining $55 million was put into a special “medical monitoring” fund for the approximately 7,500 people exposed.
Still, it’s usually in a patient’s best interest to file an individual lawsuit rather than a mesothelioma class-action lawsuit. Connect with top mesothelioma lawyers who can help you now by calling (877) 450-8973.
Alternatives to Mesothelioma Class-Action Lawsuits
Mesothelioma victims have other ways to recover damages for their injuries and losses other than through class actions. Learn how some of these other legal options can help below.
Individual Mesothelioma Lawsuits
Instead of class-action lawsuits, most people file individual mesothelioma lawsuits to recover compensation. For best results, victims typically work with asbestos attorneys to file these lawsuits.
Mesothelioma attorneys can help victims:
- Gather and preserve important evidence about their asbestos exposure history and diagnosis, such as medical bills, records, and expenses
- File a mesothelioma lawsuit against all potentially liable asbestos manufacturers
- Prepare and file paperwork before relevant deadlines and statutes of limitations
- Negotiate with the opposing side(s) to maximize mesothelioma settlement payouts
- Take the case to trial if a mesothelioma settlement isn’t reached
Family members can also file mesothelioma wrongful death lawsuits if a loved one died from this cancer.
Asbestos Trust Fund Claims
Some makers of asbestos-containing products filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection after facing many lawsuits from those they’d harmed. Through bankruptcy protection, these companies can no longer be sued.
However, the U.S. bankruptcy court system forced these companies to set up asbestos trust funds so those who were harmed could still get paid. More than $30 billion is currently available in trust funds, and you may qualify to file claims with several of these trusts.
Talk to a mesothelioma law firm to learn how to recover compensation from asbestos trust funds.
VA Benefits Claim
Benefits may be available through the VA for veterans with mesothelioma who were exposed to asbestos during their time of service.
Veterans and their families may receive monthly payouts to help with living expenses through VA disability benefits. Veterans with mesothelioma may also receive low-cost or free treatments from specialists thanks to VA health care benefits.
File for VA benefits now with help from Eric Hall, our on-staff VA-accredited attorney.
Mesothelioma Class-Action Lawsuit Requirements
To start a class action, a plaintiff or group of plaintiffs (those suing) must file an asbestos lawsuit. They must claim to represent a class of at least 35 people who have been affected by asbestos exposure.
Next, a judge must determine whether the proposed mesothelioma class-action lawsuit meets the requirements outlined in Rule 23(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.
These requirements include:
- The class is so large that it would be impractical for courts to hear individual cases.
- There are questions of fact or law common to the class.
- The claims of the class representative(s) accurately represent other class members’ claims.
- The class representative(s) will fairly and adequately represent and protect the interests of all class members.
Remember: It’s extremely unlikely that your case will be filed as a mesothelioma class-action lawsuit. No two mesothelioma lawsuits are alike in most cases. Consult with a top mesothelioma lawyer to get more guidance as to what legal action you can take.
History of Mesothelioma Class-Action Lawsuits
Throughout the 20th century, many plaintiffs filed individual and class-action lawsuits for mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases.
Here’s a breakdown of the history behind mesothelioma class-action lawsuits:
- 1920s: Scientists started becoming aware of the dangers of asbestos.
- 1930: British physician Dr. Edward Merewether discovered that occupational exposure to asbestos fibers in building materials and other products can cause illnesses like asbestosis.
- 1933: Internal documents at major asbestos corporations reveal that company leaders know their materials are harming people. Instead of releasing these findings, the manufacturers of asbestos-based products lied and concealed the facts for decades.
- 1973: In Borel v. Fibreboard Paper Products Corp, judges determined that asbestos manufacturers are liable to workers injured by asbestos exposure. Thousands of asbestos victims started filing lawsuits after this landmark decision.
- 1991: Federal judges consolidated over 26,000 asbestos cases and transferred them to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. The court was overwhelmed by the number of claims, so most of them remained inactive.
- 1994: In Georgine v. Amchem Products, the court determined that mesothelioma class-action lawsuits did not meet the requirements outlined by Federal Rules of Civil Procedure Rule 23(a). Each class member’s case was too unique.
- 1997: In Amchem Products, Inc., et al., Petitioners v. George Windsor et al., the court established that all mesothelioma class-action claimants had their own unique cases. As a result, mesothelioma class-action lawsuits could not adequately represent all of their interests.
- 2016: In an extremely rare exception, an asbestos-related class-action lawsuit was successfully filed and helped set aside money for 7,500 people exposed to asbestos during renovations at a Kansas court building.
File a Mesothelioma Lawsuit Now
Mesothelioma class-action lawsuits are only filed in very, very rare cases today. That said, individual lawsuits, asbestos trust fund claims, and VA benefits claims can all help mesothelioma patients get financial aid and justice.
Do you need assistance finding the right legal option for you or your family members? We can help you find top mesothelioma lawyers who can navigate your case and secure compensation on your behalf. Get started now.
The mesothelioma attorneys we’ve partnered with have years of experience helping other asbestos patients and can pursue compensation for you if you’re eligible.
Mesothelioma Class-Action Lawsuit FAQs
Does everyone in a mesothelioma class-action lawsuit get a settlement?
Yes, everyone in a mesothelioma class-action lawsuit will get a settlement for mesothelioma if the class wins.
However, the payout will likely be smaller than what one would get from an individual lawsuit since it is divided among everyone that sued.
What’s the difference between a mesothelioma class-action lawsuit and an individual lawsuit?
A mesothelioma class-action lawsuit brings together a large number of asbestos claims. All of the plaintiffs have suffered similar financial losses and/or injuries caused by the same asbestos manufacturer(s).
In contrast, an individual lawsuit is filed by a single plaintiff against a defendant or defendants (those being sued).
Notably, individual mesothelioma lawsuits are typically the better option as they allow your case to get the personalized attention it deserves. You’ll also have a better chance of receiving more financial compensation through an individual lawsuit than a class-action one.
Do mesothelioma patients still file class-action lawsuits?
No, because class-action lawsuits for mesothelioma rarely pass the initial certification stage.
Mesothelioma class-action lawsuits are also unlikely to give mesothelioma victims fair financial compensation for their physical, emotional, and monetary losses.
Call (877) 450-8973 to learn which type(s) of legal action you may qualify for after a mesothelioma diagnosis.