Individual vs. Class Action Lawsuits
Mesothelioma patients and their families have several legal options for collecting compensation from the asbestos companies that recklessly disregarded their health. In the past, class-action lawsuits were widely used for asbestos-disease compensation. Today, individual lawsuits have proven to be more beneficial for injured patients and their families.
Asbestos class action lawsuits gained traction in the 1960s when the public became aware of the dangers of asbestos. However, after years of legal proceedings, the U.S. courts now look unfavorably at class action asbestos lawsuits. While mesothelioma class action lawsuits still exist, they are not commonly used because they are typically not financially advantageous for the plaintiffs.
Asbestos lawsuits are complex. No two victims have the same disease progression or outcome. By filing individual lawsuits, asbestos-cancer victims can present facts based on their own medical histories and experiences. Experienced mesothelioma attorneys help victims and their families file successful lawsuits for compensation for medical bills, living expenses and long-term security.
Filing an Asbestos Class Action Lawsuit
Asbestos litigation began after thousands of workers and their families were sickened by exposure. By the 1980s, the number of lawsuits soared to 750,000.
Many lawsuits were filed in federal courts because the parties involved were located in a variety of states. Cases that had both the plaintiffs and defendants in the same state stayed in state court.
In an effort to stem the tide of litigation, federal authorities in 1991 consolidated federal asbestos cases in U.S. District Court for pretrial purposes. When the presiding judge failed to reach a global settlement in the Georgine v. Amchem Products asbestos case, a group of attorneys worked out a separate settlement for some plaintiffs.
In 1997, the U.S. Supreme court struck down the $1.2 billion class-action settlement against Amchem Products because the plaintiffs’ claims were too varied. The class action lawsuit included plaintiffs who had developed asbestos-related diseases and other who had been exposed but not yet developed symptoms.
Filing an Individual Asbestos Lawsuit
Since the Amchem decision, federal asbestos-disease lawsuits are handled as part of a multi-district litigation (MDL), which is a federal court proceeding that consolidates individual cases for pretrial purposes to save time and money.
The U.S. District Court Eastern District of Pennsylvania oversees the mass tort, MDL No. 875, which has seen nearly 187,000 cases to date.
After the pre-trial court proceedings are completed, the cases are then sent back to the original jurisdictions for trial.
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Deciding Between an Individual and Class Action Lawsuit
The decision to file an individual lawsuit or to join a class-action mesothelioma lawsuit should be based on the distinctive facts of your case. The first step to an asbestos legal claim is choosing an experienced attorney who can successful usher through the case. Mesothelioma attorneys understand every asbestos claim is different because the circumstances of each case vary.
Our network of attorneys has helped scores of asbestos victims determine their best path to financial compensation. Their experience and guidance will help you make a decision about your legal and financial options.
In addition to providing legal assistance, our services include Patient Advocates who connect patients with mesothelioma physicians and free medical treatment. Contact us today.
- NWLaborPress. “U.S. Supreme Court overturns class-action asbestos lawsuit.” Retrieved from http://www.nwlaborpress.org/1997/asbestos.html
- Labaton, S. “Overturning of $1.3 Billion Settlement With Victims of Asbestos Exposure Is Upheld.” The New York Times. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/1997/06/26/us/overturning-1.3-billion-settlement-with-victims-asbestos-exposure-upheld.html?mcubz=1
- Hanlon, Patrick, et al. “Asbestos Changes.” NYU Annual Survey Of American Law. Retrieved from http://www.law.nyu.edu/sites/default/files/ecm_pro_064613.pdf
- United States District Court Eastern District of Pennsylvania. MDL 875 In Re: Asbestos Products Liability Litigation (No. VI). Retrieved from http://www.nwlaborpress.org/1997/asbestos.html