About Asbestos and Mesothelioma
Mesothelioma is a type of cancer that is caused by the inhalation of asbestos fibers. Once asbestos fibers are inhaled, they adhere to the protective mesothelium layer of organs such as the lungs for years, creating cancerous cells. Symptoms often will not present themselves for 15 to 20 years. However, when mesothelioma is diagnosed it is very aggressive; some estimate that half of diagnosed patients succumb to the disease within 18 months.
Asbestos saw most of its use between the 1940s and 1970s as a cost-effective form of fire and chemical-resistant insulation. Asbestos was also used in a variety of industries, ranging from naval ships, textiles, automotive parts, talc-based products.
Even as recently as 2001, Ford spent $40 million on pro-asbestos research arguing that automobile mechanics who were exposed to asbestos-contaminated brake dust were not at increased risk of developing mesothelioma. In their 2014 annual report, Ford stated “the scientific evidence confirms our long-standing position that there is no increased risk of asbestos-related disease as a result of exposure to the type of asbestos formerly used in the brakes on our vehicles.” The World Health Organization, however, says all forms of asbestos cause cancer.
Those adversely affected by mesothelioma began to file workers compensation claims in the 1960’s. An estimated 400 people have died from exposure, and 1,750 have suffered from an asbestos-related disease.
The company that likely has the most blood on its hands is W.R. Grace and Company. The company owned a vermiculite ore mine in Libby, Montana from 1963 to 1990. The mine released asbestos dust, contaminating the town’s air, soil, and water.
W.R. Grace and Company, has faced 270,000 asbestos-related lawsuits. The company operated a vermiculite ore mine in Libby, Montana for nearly 40 years and filed for bankruptcy in 2001, setting aside $4 billion in an asbestos trust. Agencies in the state of Montana were also held liable for failing to warn residents of the dangers posed by the mine. In 2011, a $43 million settlement was reached to compensate miners and their families.
A multi-district litigation (MDL) in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania initially formed in 1991 has overseen the majority of recent mesothelioma lawsuits. An estimated 8,500 defendants and 700,000 claimants have been involved in asbestos-related lawsuits. The average mesothelioma settlement amount is between $1 million and $1.4 million, with an average verdict is about $2.4 million, according to Mealey’s Litigation Report.
Lawsuits can provide compensation for medical expenses, loss of wages, funeral expenses, pain and suffering.
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