Liability is defined as the state of being responsible for something, especially by law. So who is responsible for asbestos exposure leading to mesothelioma? Every year nearly 3000 people in the United States are diagnosed with asbestos-related diseases, such as mesothelioma. However, these diagnoses are very preventable.
How is Liability Determined?
Asbestos claims are often called “mass torts’’ because asbestos exposure causes injury to many people. The actions of just a single defendant can injury or harm one person, dozens of people, or even thousands of people at one time. In places of high population such as a mining area, a factory or plant, a military vessel, or handling or exposure to insulation containing asbestos products. Patients and plaintiffs can file their claims either separately or together in a group. It is at this point, the plaintiffs and their mesothelioma lawyers convince a jury that the defendant is liable for their injuries. Each state may have its own liability laws but usually have the same three legal theories. Those theories include negligence, strict liability, and/or breach of a warrant.
In the United States, 35 states have naturally occurring asbestos mines. Asbestos mines in many of those states were active during most of the twentieth century. Mining in these areas put the workers and population around the mine at high risk of developing asbestos-related diseases, such as mesothelioma. Though the last active asbestos mine in the United States was closed in 2002, new cases of asbestos-related diseases, such as mesothelioma, will continue to develop for years to come because symptoms do not surface for decades after exposure. For example, workers and the general population around an asbestos mine owned by W.R. Grace & Co. near Libby, Montana were exposed to asbestos fibers. The workers and residents in the city sued the mining company for exposure and negligence. The lawsuit was so large, W.R. Grace & Co. had to file for bankruptcy protection. The claims did not end there. After the bankruptcy filing, many of the plaintiffs filed a lawsuit against the state of Montana. They claimed that state officials knew about the safety violations of the mine and failed to sufficiently warn the public. The case settled for $43 million.
Asbestos was once known as the “magic mineral.” It was used in nearly every aspect of the construction process. A lawsuit was filed against many asbestos manufacturers because they failed to adequately warn the public of the hazards and dangers of asbestos. During legal proceedings in the 1970s, the United States court system found these asbestos manufacturers had a duty to properly warn about the dangers of this mineral. In 1973, the first asbestos lawsuit victory was made in a case against 11 asbestos manufacturers.
Asbestos Containing Products
Duties to warn the public about asbestos-related dangers did not end with asbestos manufacturers. Many companies used asbestos to produce products like boilers, brakes, engines, electronics, and dozens of household goods. These third-party manufacturers also became liable for asbestos-related diseases, such as mesothelioma.